Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 51,782 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 18 July 2018. That total compares to 110,189 at this time last year, and 244,722 at this time in 2016.
Arrivals to Spain (see chart below) this month have overtaken those to Italy. To date just over 36 per cent of all Mediterranean irregular migrants have come via the Western Mediterranean route, whose irregular migration volume has nearly tripled those registered at this time last year.
Arrivals to Italy are nearly identical, but still trail Spain by just over 800 arrivals. Greece counts about 29 per cent of all arrivals. Significantly, Greece’s arrivals thus far in 2018 are running almost 5,000 ahead of last year’s totals on this date, an increase of better than 50 per cent. Arrivals to Italy, on the other hand, are down over 80 per cent compared to 2017 data.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Thursday that the number (3,136) of irregular migrant arrivals to Italy by sea in June this year was the lowest recorded by Italian authorities since 2014.
Nonetheless, in the month of June, the Central Mediterranean route linking Italy to North Africa recorded the highest number of deaths along this channel in the past four years. In June 2018, some 564 migrants were reported drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Sicily. That compares with 529 in 2017, with 388 in 2016, five in 2015 and 314 in 2014. Through 18 July, 153 additional fatalities have been recorded on this route.
In spite of the slightly lower numbers of illegal migrants arriving this year in comparison with the last year, the numbers of arrivals remain high, causing criticism of politicians insisting Europe has no capacity to host “all in need around the globe”. “EU can not accept all the migrants from the planet” – Czech Prime minister Andrej Babiš said, commenting situation with illegal migration.