By Akanimo Sampson
The International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project reported at the weekend that along the Western Mediterranean route, the body of a male Moroccan who died from drowning was recovered on November 7 between Al Hoceima and Chefchaouen, Morocco.
Just as the man’s remains were taken to Hospital Mohamed V in Chefchaouen in Morocco, the remains of an individual believed to be from North Africa were recovered on November 8 at the Port of Melilla, Spain.
He was reported to have fallen from a cargo truck that was on a ferry. However, deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through November 13 stand at 1,091 individuals – or about 52 per cent of the 2,117 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018.
These 1,091 deaths at sea include several documented only in recent days.
IOM also reports that 91,568 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through November 13, roughly an 11 per cent decrease from the 103,347 arriving during the same period last year.
Arrivals this year to Greece and Spain are at 50,371 and 22,343, respectively, (72,714 combined) accounting for about 79 per cent of the regional total, with the balance arriving in much smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals to Greece are running approximately 75 per cent ahead of 2018’s totals from this time. Arrivals to Spain are more than 50 per cent lower.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo cited official Ministry of Interior figures of 9,944 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year through November 13, compared to 22,518 at this same time in 2018.
IOM Libya has reported that through 31 October almost 8,300 migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya in 2019.
IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday that from Friday up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) participated in at least 23 incidents requiring search and rescue operation off the islands of Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Symi, Leros, Farmakonisi and the port of Alexandroupoli. The HCG rescued a total of 718 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports.
Those arrivals plus others between November 6 and 12 bring to 50,371, the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year.
Missing Migrants Project
2019 is the sixth 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 33,984 people, including 2,822 in 2019.
Due to the challenges of collecting information about these people and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost during migration 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.
This week a dataset containing reports of migrant deaths was added to the Missing Migrants Project from the Mixed Migration Centre’s Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism (4mi) surveys in Asia. In total, 67 new incidents were recorded between April and August 2019, for a total of 193 newly recorded deaths during migration. Of these, 112 were reported in Southeast Asia; 75 in South Asia, and another six in North-eastern Europe.
The information contained in 4mi’s surveys, which is difficult to verify, sheds light on the fact that many deaths during migration go unrecorded and unreported. Testimonies from even this relatively small sample indicate that people on the move across Eurasia face many risks to their life, including sickness and lack of access to medicine, starvation, dehydration, exposure, vehicle accents and violence.
Migrant deaths in the Americas continue during what may be the deadliest year MMP has recorded in the past six years. In total, at least 634 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with the 517 that were recorded through this point in 2018.
On the US-México border, skeletal remains of an unidentified individual, believed to be from Latin America were recovered from a ranch near the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint, Brooks County, Texas, USA on November 12.
Further south, the body of a 44-year-old man believed to be from Central America, was found on the train tracks near Estación Ochoa, municipality of Pánuco, Veracruz, México on 11 November. He is believed to have fallen from a train. Also, on the 12 November, the remains of two migrants from Cuba were recovered in Luis Gómez Cepeda, Tenosique, Tabasco, México. Both were murdered. They were believed to be a couple traveling together. One was pregnant.
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.