The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 14,854 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through mid-March 2020. That’s an increase of almost 50 per cent over the arrivals reported on three principle migratory routes crossing the Mediterranean at this point last year, when IOM recorded 10,771 irregular arrivals to Europe by sea.
Most of the increase can be attributed to transit along the eastern Mediterranean route linking the Middle East and Africa to Greece, which has recorded about 2,500 more arrivals through these early weeks of 2020 than were reported through this point in 2019.
Arrivals also are higher to Italy – to 2,738 in 2020 compared to just 398 at this time last year – and to Malta, which has recorded 1,1135 arrivals so far this year, compared to 136 at this point in 2019. The Mediterranean’s western route to Spain shows the sharpest drop in arrivals – to 3,803 in 2020 from 5,491 last year.
Deaths through 18 March are down, to 219, compared to 299 this time last year. Tragedies continue to plague the Central Mediterranean route.
*IOM’s Missing Migrants Project* reports that five weeks after a 9 February alert from the NGO Alarm Phone that a boat leaving Libya with 91 passengers aboard still has not been found. GPS coordinates of the last known location of the boat have been cross-checked against records of search and rescue (SAR) operations conducted by Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities, as well as NGO rescue ships. Through 18 March, 115 are believed to have perished on this route in 2020 – more than half of them from this single incident.
Arrivals to Greece so far are continuing their rapid pace from a year ago. The 7,178 men, women and children arriving in Greece by sea through 18 March nearly matches the roughly 7,600 arrivals to Greece through the end of April last year.
IOM Athens reported Thursday that from last Friday (13/03) up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) has carried out at least two search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos and Kea. The HCG rescued a total of 214 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports.
The IOM unit also released data this week for all nationalities arriving via irregular means to Greece. According to the Hellenic Coast Guard, Afghanistan migrants continue to comprise the largest single group of irregular migrants arriving in 2020, as was the case in 2018 and 2019.
Through the end of February, IOM Athens reports 2,399 Afghan nationals have been recorded on this route, out of a total migrant population of 5,261 – or about 40 per cent of the total. The second largest group was from Syria, with 1,188 men, women and children, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (273), Somalia (250) and Iraq (218).
Among the other nationalities still being detected along this route – albeit in much smaller numbers –include Palestinians (207 arrivals), Iranians (152) and Cameroons (98). Latin Americans also continue to use this route into Europe with a total so far this year of seven individuals from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
*Missing Migrants Project*
2020 is the seventh year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through its Missing Migrants Project.
Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 35,720 people, including 464 as of 19 March 2020. Due to the challenges of collecting information about people who die during migration and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost is likely much higher.
Missing Migrants Project records should only be viewed as indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the true number of deaths across time or geography.
The crisis at the Greece-Turkey border has already cost the lives of three people. On 2 March, a seven-year-old Syrian boy drowned just off the coast of Lesvos, Greece, when a boat overturned. Two men have been killed at the Greece-Turkey border, in two separate incidents. Both were taken to hospitals on the Turkish side; regrettably, the doctors were unable to save their lives.
Shipwrecks are the most common causes of migrant fatalities. Over the past seven weeks (1 February-18 March), the Missing Migrants Project has confirmed three deadly shipwrecks.
On 11 February, at least 14 women and children drowned, and 45 other people went missing when the boat taking them to Malaysia capsized in the Bay of Bengal near Saint Martin’s Island; most victims were Rohingya refugees.
Three days later, on 14 February a boat capsized in the Central Mediterranean. It departed from Chetaibi, Algeria, carrying 18 people, all of whom remain missing. Also, in February, a boat carrying 28 migrants capsized off the coast of Dakhla en route to the Canary Islands; half of them remain unaccounted for.
At the US-Mexico border, a Guatemalan teen died on 14 March, after falling while climbing the 5.5-meter-high border wall in Clint, Texas. The 19-year-old woman was eight months pregnant, traveling with her partner, who reportedly carried her until he located the US Border Patrol agents who took her to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where doctors performed an emergency C-section. Sadly, both the mother and her baby passed away.
They join a growing list of lost lives in the border region. From the beginning of February, the Missing Migrants Project documented the deaths of 21 people at the US-Mexico border.
Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here. The report Fatal Journeys Volume 4, published on 28 June 2019, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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