The UN says for the fifth straight year, 1,500 migrants
perished in the Mediterranean, with the route between Libya and Italy being the deadliest.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Friday, Spain, which has overtaken
Italy as the preferred destination, registered nearly 21,000 migrants so far this year.
The IOM said, this is more than all of 2017.
In all, the IOM said, about 55,000 migrants have reached European shores so far this year, against more
than double that number at this time last year, 111,753.
Italy, whose new government has closed its ports to rescue vessels, has had about 18,130 migrants arriving
by sea from Libya this year, with the rest going to Greece, Malta and Cyprus.
“It’s important to note two things: one is that despite incredibly low numbers arriving to Italy, the
per capita death or the rate of death per 1,000 people may be at its highest point since the emergency
began,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a Geneva news conference.
Referring to the 1,500 death toll, he said: “It’s only once in the previous four years (that) this mark
has been reached later than this date in July and that was in 2014 when the emergency was really
More than 600 African migrants forced their way through the heavily fortified border fence separating the
Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco on Thursday, using circular saws, shears and mallets
to cut through the wire.
“What we can say is that the first indications that we are getting from the Spanish authorities is that
it is the West African migrants that were most prominent crossing into Libya in the past couple of
years who seem to be choosing Spain as their route now,” Millman said.
He said the death rate on the western Mediterranean route to Spain is about one in 70 migrants.