The United Nations International Organisation for Migration released data on April 7 showing 663 people died or are missing after trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2017.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project recorded 663 deaths or missing people between January 1 and April 6, compared to 749 in 2016. A total of 14 fatalities have been recorded near Greece, 47 off Spain and 602 documented between Libya and Italy.
Between January 1 and April 5, 29,811 people arrived in Europe, compared to 172,353 for the same period in 2016. Over 80% of people arrived in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece.
The Mediterranean region accounts for more than half the Missing Migrants Project’s global total of 1,178 recorded deaths and missing people worldwide through April 3. This is 461 fewer than at the same point in 2016, but the IOM notes that data collection in North Africa and the Horn of Africa tends to be slower than in other regions and the figure could increase.
IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo reported that on March 5, a total of 755 people were rescued by MOAS’ ship “Phoenix” and the SOS Mediterranée “Aquarius”. A further 1,355 people were rescued at sea on March 6.
IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported that on April 6, a Libyan Coast Guard vessel was fired on from a smuggler’s boat. There was an exchange of gunfire and one coast guard member was badly injured. At least two smugglers were killed and two others arrested.
Separately on April 6, 138 people were rescued off Libya by local fishermen and coast security.