Mediterranean migrant arrivals reach 358,403; Official deaths at sea: 4,913

23/12/16 Switzerland - IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to Missing Migrants Project with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.      

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children.

According to IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM has gathered testimony from survivors of two incidents that caused the death of at least 100 migrants. According to survivors brought yesterday evening to Trapani by the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti, the two shipwrecks involved rubber dinghies that capsized while trying to cross the Channel of Sicily.

While details of both incidents remain to be investigated, IOM reports Friday that witnesses from a total of 63 survivors traveling in one dinghy indicated that their craft was carrying between 120 and 140 migrants. In the other incident, about 80 migrants reportedly survived from a dinghy said to be carrying about 120 people. Early indications are that mainly Western African migrants were on board both vessels, among them a significant number of women and children.

“This tragedy reminds us that the humanitarian emergency involving thousands of people dying while trying to flee Libya is not over,” said Di Giacomo. “In 2016 the number of arrivals by sea in Italy has kept growing, but the number of migrants dying is up dramatically: over 5,000 people have died in 2016, compared to 3,777 deaths registered in the same period last year. That is nearly more than 2,000 more than in 2014, another year when over 3,000 men, women and children were lost on this dangerous passage.”

Di Giacomo explained that the number of shipwrecks reflects the poor state of the boats used by the migrants, compounded by harsh weather conditions at sea in this season.

“We are seeing more migrants crossing this winter. This trend confirms the fact that conditions in Libya are becoming increasingly dangerous for migrants, who are often trying to flee the country in order to save their lives,” he said.

“Many people have told us that they didn't want to come to Europe when they left their country of origin. For many of them the destination country was Libya. But what they found there was abuse and violence. As a consequence, they decided to try the sea crossing, putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, who forced them to embark on vessels unfit to sail. These shipwrecks cannot be therefore considered mere ‘incidents.’ They are the consequence of criminal behaviour by smugglers.”

IOM Rome also reported Thursday 179,525 migrants arrived in Italy by sea this year, a 19 percent increase compared to the same period last year, and a 7 percent increase over 2014.

Arrivals through the first three weeks of this month totalled 6,517, or nearly 2,200 per week – compared with a weekly average for the entire year of nearly 3,600. 

Since the start of 2014, IOM calculates over half a million sea-borne migrants have entered Europe via the Central Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Italy. This year’s totals almost certainly will top 180,000 – making 2016 the busiest year for this route since the current migration emergency began.


1 January – 19 December 2016

1 January – 31 December 2015

 Country of Arrival








(Central Med. route)


(all Med routes)



(Eastern Med. route)






(as of 30 September

(Western Med. route)


Estimated Total





(includes Malta 106)



January 2016

Sea borders

Land Borders



February 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



March 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



April 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



May  2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



June 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



July 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



August 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



September  2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



October  2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



November  2016

Sea borders

Land  borders



December 2016

Sea borders

Land  borders




IOM Athens reported Thursday 173,244 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece by sea this year through 21 December, bringing the total to 1,061,336 since January 1, 2014. 



1 Jan – 31 Dec 2014

1 Jan – 31 Dec 2015

1 Jan – 21 December 2016






For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic:
For latest arrivals data in the Mediterranean, please visit: 
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

For further information please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: 
Sabine Schneider, IOM Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 17,  Email:
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email: or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email: 
Mazen Aboulhosn at IOM Turkey, Tel: +9031245-51202, Email:
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email:  or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216297 94707, Email: 

For information or interview requests in French:
Florence Kim, OIM Genève, Tel: +41 79 103 03 42, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo, OIM Italie, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:

Regions in focus



Missing Migrants Project by International Organization for Migration (IOM) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This means that Missing Migrants Project data and website content is free to share and adapt, as long as the appropriate attribution is given. 

Missing Migrants Project is made possible by funding by UK Aid from the Government of the United Kingdom; however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the Government of the United Kingdom’s official policies.