Mediterranean arrivals, deaths down in 2019: IOM

Mediterranean arrivals into Europe and deaths by those making crossing are both down from last year despite a boat capsizing off Libya this week leaving 10 people dead, and some 30 people unaccounted for, the United Nations has said.

UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Joel Millman said at UN media briefing here that 46,521 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea through Aug. 28.

The number is roughly a 32 percent decrease from the 68,029 arriving during the same period last year.

“Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through almost eight months of 2019 are at 909 individuals – or about 58 percent of the 1,562 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018,” said Millman.

On Aug. 27, a boat carrying more than a hundred migrants capsized off the coast of AI-Khums, Libya, said the IOM spokesperson.

The Libyan Coast Guard intercepted those on board and brought to shore 64 survivors, who reported that several people had drowned before the rescue took place.

The remains of 10 people later were recovered from the sea, including those of a Moroccan family (a mother, father, and two children aged 4 and 12) and a Somali man.

“At least 30 people remain missing, according to the testimonies of survivors,” said Millman.

Just a day later, the ship Mare Jonio, from the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans, rescued nearly 100 people from a deflating boat off the coast of Libya, including 22 children under the age of 10 and eight pregnant women.

According to survivors interviewed by NGO staff, six people had drowned before they were rescued. Their bodies were not recovered.