Over 102,000 migrants arrive in Europe in first five months of 2015

IOM reports some 102,000 migrants arriving in Europe in first five months of 2015; numbers are higher than the same period last year

The International Organization for Migration reports that some 102,000 migrants have arrived by sea in Europe this year so far.

The number, which is slightly ahead of levels reached at this time in 2014, reflects growing sea-borne migration from the Middle East and Africa, with most of the landings taking place either in Italy or Greece.

Statistics compiled by IOM in the Mediterranean show that 54,660 migrants have reached Italy, after departing almost exclusively from Libya, while 46,150 migrants departing mainly from Turkey, have reached Greece.

Estimates show that around 7,000 people were rescued in the Channel of Sicily between Saturday 6th June and Monday 8th June. Many Italian vessels took part in the rescue operation, and they were aided by ships sent by Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

According to the IOM, the ships brought migrants to the ports of Lampedusa, Catania, Augusta, Palermo, Trapani, Pozzallo (Sicily), Reggio Calabria, Corigliano Calabro, Vibo Valentia (Calabria) and Taranto (Apulia) on the Italian mainland, while no fatalities were reported.

The rescue operations carried out by the international flotilla is a prelude to what is expected to be a surge of migrant crossings in the months ahead, as calm weather in the Mediterranean encourages smugglers to fill unseaworthy open boats with vulnerable people aboard, among them refugees and economic migrants.

According to IOM estimates, thus far this year has seen the Italian Coast Guard, Italian Navy and Italian Guardia di Finanza rescue over 28,500 migrants. Meanwhile other European Union and commercial vessels have rescued just over 10,000 migrants, nearly 3,500 of whom were rescued under the EU’s Frontex/Triton maritime patrol operation. An additional 14,500 people were rescued by commercial vessels, adding up to a total of 53,000 rescued migrants brought to Italy so far this year.

According to official figures 47,449 migrants arrived by sea in Italy from January to May 2015, which presented a slight increase in comparison to the same period of last year, when arrivals were 41,243. As of 31st May the main nationalities of migrants arriving in Italy were: Eritrean (10,985), Somali (4,958), Nigerian (4,630), Syrian (3,185), Gambian (2,941), and Senegalese (2,328).

The IOM further reports that Greece has seen a significant increase in the number of arrivals in comparison to last year, with arrivals at 34,000, between January and December 2014, whereas the  first five months of the year, have already seen about 46,150 arrivals. The main nationalities of the migrants here are Syrian and Afghan.

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