Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Reach 311, UN Agency Says

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A United Nations agency, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reports that deaths on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes have reached 311 individuals, while 11,901 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through March 27.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo on Thursday (28/3) reported that a total of 506 migrants have reached Italy by sea in 2019, according to the Ministry of Interior. Since the start of the year, 1,073 migrants have been returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard.

IOM Spain reported that 5,537 men, women and children have arrived as irregular migrants since the start of this year through to March 24.

IOM Greece reported on Thursday (28/03) that 5,482 migrants have reached Greece by sea this year. Most migrants accounted for in the data set come from Turkey, and the main landing points are the islands of Lesvos, Kos, Samos, Rhodes, Kalymnos, Megisti, Leros and Chios.

2019 is the 60th year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through the Missing Migrants Project (MMP). Since the beginning of 2014, the Project has recorded the deaths of 31,557 people, including 598 in 2019.

Due to the challenges of collecting information about these people and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of fatalities during migration is likely much higher. Therefore, MMP records should only be viewed as indicative, rather than representative across time or geography.

At least 16 women, men and children drowned in the Mediterranean in the past week. In the Eastern Mediterranean, a boat carrying 15 people, reported to be from Afghanistan, capsized off the coast of Ayvacık, in Turkey’s province of Çanakkale, on March 26.

Three young women and a one-year-old child tragically drowned at sea. Their remains were recovered by the Turkish Coast Guard, who also rescued 11 survivors. On Thursday (28/03) another tragic incident was recorded in the Aegean Sea, when a boat sank off the coast of Chios, Greece.

The Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 36 survivors who originated from Yemen, Syria and Iraq, including three women and three children. According to their testimonies, two men are thought to be missing at sea. During the first three months of 2019, the deaths of six children and seven women have been recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the Central Mediterranean, a shipwreck was reported north of Sfax, Tunisia on Saturday (23 March). At least eight young people are known to have lost their lives during this tragic incident. The three women and five men who boarded the boat with the hopes of reaching Italy came from the coastal city of Mahdia, north of Sfax. The remains of four of these individuals were recovered in the days following the shipwreck, while four remain missing.

In the Western Mediterranean, the remains of two people washed up on two different beaches south of Ceuta on Tuesday (26/3). One body was recovered by Spanish authorities in El Tarajal beach, while Moroccan authorities reportedly recovered the other body on a beach north of Tétouan.

No information on the identities, sex, age, or country of origin of the deceased is available. At least 132 people have died or gone missing in the waters between North Africa and Spain since the beginning of the year, including five children and 12 women.

Elsewhere in the world, MMP recorded the death of a Honduran man, who was hit by a train near Teacalco, in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico, this past Monday, March 25. In Thailand, ten migrant workers were killed when the van in which they were travelling overturned on a highway in Kanchanaburi province, 150km west of Bangkok near the border with Myanmar.

The van was hit by a truck at an intersection and plunged into a roadside canal after the crash. The remains of eight people, five of them Vietnamese nationals, had been recovered at the time of writing.

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