Fatalities of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean in January topped 360 due to a particularly deadly final weekend of the month, when over 100 men, women in and children died in the waters off Greece, Turkey and Italy.
The deaths of 70 migrants and refugees leaving Libya for Italy was reported to IOM’s Rome office on Saturday, the same day 39 people were reported missing, presumed drowned off Greece.
In what is now the fourth year of the Mediterranean’s migrant emergency, children were especially vulnerable during the past month. IOM estimates that 60 children under the age of 18 died on the so-called Eastern Mediterranean route, bringing to 330 the total number of minors drowning in those waters over the past five months.
The worst month for these fatalities was December, when 82 children under the age of 18 died in the Eastern Mediterranean, many of them infants and toddlers.
IOM figures for all of 2015 show a total of 114,026 accompanied and unaccompanied minors arriving in the Eastern Mediterranean, or about one in seven of the 847,084 total.
So far in 2016, 19,781 accompanied and unaccompanied minors have arrived, or about one in three of all migrants or refugees. In Italy in 2015, 16,461 accompanied and unaccompanied minors arrived from North Africa, roughly one in ten of all arrivals.
Through January, 62,193 migrants and refugees have entered Europe through Greece. Surveys by the Greek authorities indicate that 91 per cent come from three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
IOM estimates that Italy in January 2016 saw the arrival of at least 5,000 migrants or refugees rescued from vessels leaving North Africa, up from 3,528 the previous January.
On January 30th, 400 migrants were rescued in Taranto, including 69 women (four of whom were pregnant) and 38 unaccompanied minors. On January 31st, 91 migrants were rescued near Augusta and transferred to the reception centers of Zagara, Oasi Don Bosco and Umberto Primo. These figures may increase as some rescued migrants haven’t been brought ashore and are yet to be registered.
PHOTO: © MOAS.EU/Jason Florio