The Mediterranean in 2019 claimed the lives of nearly 1,300 migrants who were attempting to reach Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement released on 3 January. The drownings were 44% down on 2018 but the risk for those undertaking the crossing in search for a better future in Europe remained very high, the organization said.
On the most dangerous route, between Libya and Italy, one migrant in 33 drowned last year compared to one in 35 in 2018 and one in 51 in 2017, the IOM experts said.
The number of migrants who came to Europe by sea in 2019 was 110,669, 5% down on the previous year.
Arrivals in 2019 nearly halved in Italy while they doubled in Greece compared to the previous year, IOM said.
Data on arrivals
Arrivals in Italy in 2019 were 11,471, down from the over 181,000 recorded in 2016, 119,000 in 2017 and 23,370 in 2018, when the government said it was closing Italian ports to migrants, according to data released by IOM.
Arrivals in Greece in 2019 nearly doubled to 62,445 compared to 32.742 the previous year, when landings remained stable from 2017 after the exodus of some 854,000 people registered in 2015, in the midst of the Syrian crisis, and the 174,000 individuals recorded in 2016.
Growing number of unconfirmed shipwrecks
Although the number of deaths recorded fell, these figures ”do not include a rising number of shipwrecks still yet to be confirmed,” according to data released by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, based at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin, Germany.
So, while the number of migrant deaths recorded in the Mediterranean is down in 2019 compared to previous years, IOM said its records indicate that hundreds of lives were lost without a trace this year. ”These ‘ghost boats’ — vessels reported missing en route to Europe for which no hard evidence can be found — have become increasingly frequent since the search and rescue presence of European and non-governmental actors fell in mid-2017”, the organization said.