Themes: Missing Migrants

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 40,806 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 7 July, a 33 per cent decrease from the 60,331 arriving during the same period last year.  

Nearly half all arrivals this year (17,7497) have landed in Greece, while another one-third (13,668) have landed in Spain. Greece and Spain combine to account for 74 per cent of the region’s irregular sea landings, with the balance arriving in much smaller proportions to Italy, Malta and Cyprus (see chart below).

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through six months of 2019 are at 682 individuals – or almost half the 1,414 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018. 

Missing migrants map


Mediterranean Developments (as of Friday morning, 5 July)

Migrants developments


IOM Italy

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo cited official Ministry of Interior figures of 2,790 migrants who have arrived in Italy by sea this year through 3 July, compared to 16,709 at this same time in 2018. IOM Libya has reported that through 27 June over 3,700 migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya in 2019.

IOM Spain

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday sea arrivals to Spain through 3 July have reached 10,538 men, women and children.  That’s an average of almost 58 persons per day, compared to last year, through June 30, of just over 83 people per day.   

According to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior’s report, this represents a decrease of 27.4 per cent compared to the same period last year (3,951 fewer individuals).  

While monthly arrivals to Spain are lower this year over all (see chart below), fatalities on the Western Mediterranean route remain high – with 202 deaths reported through six months of this year, compared to 294 at this time in 2018.

IOM Greece

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday that since 2 July the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least 12 incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Kos, Samos and the port of Alexandroupolis. The HCG rescued a total of 459 migrants and transferred them to those respective ports.

Those arrivals, plus another 30 arrivals IOM recorded on 1 July, bring to 13,997 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year (see chart below).

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 32,324 individuals, including 1,367 in 2019 (see chart below).

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 past week the Missing Migrants Project recorded the deaths of 125 people: 84 in the Mediterranean, 31 in Northern Africa, five in the US-Mexico border, two in Europe, one each in Central America, the Middle East and Eastern Africa – an indication of the global nature of the risks many people face during migration.

A shipwreck in the Mediterranean on 3 July resulted in at least 82 missing migrants with one migrant rescued who later died in a Tunisian hospital. According to three survivors, the craft departed from Zouara, Libya, at dawn on Monday, but began to sink a few hours later. The Tunisian Marine and fishermen rescued three Malian nationals, and one Ivorian off the coast of Zarzis, in Tunisia. The Ivorian unfortunately died of hypothermia in the hospital one day after the shipwreck. Among those who remain missing are seven women.

In Northern Africa, two boats sank trying to get to the Canary Islands in the past two weeks. On Thursday, 27 June, six people drowned, including two women and one baby. Their boat, which departed from Sidi Ifni, a city in Morocco, started to sink a few hours after sailing.  

The second shipwreck occurred near Dajla, a city in Western Sahara, on 23 June, and resulted in the death of four migrants. Twenty-one remain missing. According to the survivors, the boat was overcrowded with at least 38 migrants and in rough conditions. A few hours after sailing, the captain abandoned the boat when he noted that it was about to sink.  

In the US-Mexico border, five deaths were recorded in the last week. A Brazilian girl, aged two, was lost by her family when crossing the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas and is presumed dead.  

Two men also lost their lives on Sunday: a 47-year-old Mexican man died in a hospital from injuries sustained after falling from the international boundary fence in Arizona, and a Brazilian man drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande in Texas. On 27 June, a Honduran man also drowned in the Morelos Dam in Baja California, Mexico, in his attempt to get to the US.

In total, at least 422 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 271 recorded through this point in 2018.  

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. To learn more about how data on migrants deaths and disappearances are collected, click here. The report Fatal Journey Volume 4, published 28 June, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

World Trafficking 2017

Violence against aid workers snapshot


Mediterranean focus 2014-19