GENEVA, JANUARY 12 – IOM reported on Friday that 1,159 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017, through 12 January, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, compared with 22,590 through the first 12 days of January, 2016. 27 people died during the deadly crossings, the UN migrant agency reported.
A year ago, IOM reported 22,322 migrants and refugees had landed on Greece’s islands after short runs from Turkey – a number consistent with the surge of Turkey-to-Europe passages that began the previous summer. This year through 12 January, IOM Athens reports that only 430 migrants from Turkey have landed in Greece. Arrivals in Italy, while also quite low, are running slightly ahead of 2016’s totals this winter. IOM Rome reports 729 migrant arrivals in Italy from North Africa in 2017, compared to 268 at this time last year. Deaths recorded at sea so far in 2017 total 27 – compared with 64 through the first 12 days of 2016 – based on a report this morning that 14 bodies were found off Libya Thursday.
“This report is rather alarming,” said Julia Black of IOM’s Missing Migrants Project in Berlin. “Bodies washing up in Libya is something we often see preceded by a large shipwreck in the Central Mediterranean.”
On 12 January, IOM officials met with Libya’s Minister of Defence at the North African country’s Navy Base to discuss ways of improving Libyan rescue-at-sea operations.
During the one-day visit, IOM also met with the leadership of the Libyan Coast Guard to discuss the outcomes of a needs assessment conducted last year. This assessment aimed to identify ways to improve the infrastructure of Libyan disembarkation points and enhance the capacity of government agencies involved in rescue operations. A work-plan for a capacity building programme was discussed during the meeting and concrete steps for the rehabilitation and provision of communication equipment was agreed. (@OnuItalia)