Geneva, Feb 24 (IANS) The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Friday said migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea this year have reached 366, fewer than the 425 during the same period last year.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported that most of the fatalities, an estimated 326 deaths or disappearances, were on the Mediterranean’s central route linking Libya to Italy, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, the eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece, which claimed 321 lives during the first 53 days of 2016, has virtually ceased, with only two deaths recorded.
Overall, according to the latest figure, migrant and refugee arrivals to Europe by sea have decreased significantly in 2017, with 13,924 registered by Wednesday, a sharp fall compared with 105,427 during the first 53 days of 2016.
Among them, over 75 per cent of the arrivals were seen in Italy, while the rest were in Greece and Spain, IOM said.
IOM Rome also reported a significant increase in migrant arrivals in Italy, with over 10,700 registered before the end of February, while the figure remained slightly over 8,100 over the same period of each of the past two years.
IOM noted that with five days to go in the month, Italian arrivals could be 50 per cent higher than those recorded during the first two months of either 2015 or 2016.