VU University Amsterdam has released a border death database documenting migrant deaths along the Southern European borders.
Here is a web post from DIIS (Danish Institute for International Studies) describing the project: “On 12 May 2015, researchers of VU University Amsterdam released a border death database, based on official death records of migrants who died at the Southern European borders in the years 1990-2013. They suggest that European states continue to collect such data supervised by a new European Migrant Death Observatory which is should be part of the Council of Europe.
The database contains individualized information on 3.188 people who died while attempting to reach southern EU countries from the Balkans, the Middle East, and North & West Africa, and whose bodies were found in or brought to Europe. It is unique because it includes – where known – date and place of death, cause of death, gender, age, country of origin, and whether or not the person was identified. Over the past year, 13 researchers visited 563 local civil registries in Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta and Gibraltar and collected information from death certificates. “This database underlines decades of indifference of European states. They had this information all the time, but failed to collect it”, says Professor Thomas Spijkerboer.
The database can be accessed through www.borderdeaths.org
o Full database
o Documentary Counting. The Human Costs of Border Control (Pieter Boeles, 2014) about the research project
o Papers on (1) how was the data collected; (2) preliminary findings; (3) identification; (4) policy relevance”
See also: The short documentary Counting the Human Cost of Border Control, in which Thomas Spijkerboer and Tamara Last (Migration Law, VU University Amsterdam) search for traces of those who have died in the civil registries along the Mediterranean coast.
While roughly 170,000 migrants over the past 14 months have reached Italy or been rescued and brought to Italy, according to UNHCR and Eurostat figures, very few of them are applying for asylum in Italy. Eurostat data through November 2014 indicate approximately 25,200 asylum applications from all nationalities were filed in Italy during the first six months of 2014; the number increased to approximately 27,000 during the period July-November 2014.
Eurostat data further show that only 455 asylum applications were submitted by Syrians in Italy during the January-November 2014 period, whereas over the same period over 28,000 Syrian asylum applications were submitted in Germany.
According to Italian press reports, “[n]ew figures from the UN’s refugee agency showed 25,077 people applied for asylum in Italy during the first six months of 2014. The highest number in Europe was recorded in Germany, which received 77,109 applications, followed by France (54,131) and Sweden (38,792).”
Click here for Eurostat “Asylum and new asylum applicants – monthly data”.
Click here for Eurostat “Asylum and new asylum applicants by citizenship, age and sex Monthly data (rounded)”. (Conduct search by modifying “+Citizen” option at upper right.)
Or click here for main Eurostat website and search for “asylum.”
Click here for news article.
“A total of 12,872 migrants trying to cross into Greece from Turkey over the Aegean Sea were captured by Turkish Coast Guard Command teams in 524 separate incidents in 2014, while 74 people were also arrested on charges of smuggling migrants, Anadolu Agency has reported. The number of migrants who were captured in 2013 was 8,047, including 6,937 on the Aegean Sea. The total number of migrants captured by authorities across Turkey in 2012 was 2,531. The official number in 2011 was 546, which means that the number of captured migrants has increased 24-fold since then. …”
An unspecified number of the intercepted migrants were reportedly subjected to push-back practices where the affected migrants were returned to Turkish territorial waters [“Yasa dışı göçmenlerin bir kısmı da ‘geri atma olayı (gittiği ülkeden Türkiye karasularına geri gönderilme)’ olarak arz edilen olaylar sonucu yakalandı.”].
The push-backs were presumably carried out by Greek patrol boats or possibly by vessels operating pursuant to Frontex Joint Operation Poseidon Sea 2013 (which operated through 2014 Q1).
Click here (EN) and here (TR) for articles.
In an interview with EFE, “Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias Fernandez said the numbers for 2014 nearly doubled the previous record of 141,000 that was registered in 2011 and attributed to spillovers from the Arab Spring. … [Arias Fernandez] noted that the number of immigrants fleeing their countries seeking international protection has increased. ‘A few years ago, immigration for economic reasons was estimated at 50 percent and the same percentage for political refugees, while in 2014 about 80 percent of immigrants to the EU will be asylum seekers,’ he said. Although Frontex will not reveal specific details until mid-January 2014, [Arias Fernandez] said the total figure will likely exceed 270,000 people, as about 260,000 migrants were recorded till November….”
Click here (EN) or here (ES) for articles.
Excerpts from UNHCR press statement 17 Oct. 2104: “[T]here has been a sharp increase this year in the number of migrants and asylum-seekers losing their lives in attempts to get to Yemen, mainly from the Horn of Africa, with more deaths at sea in 2014 than in the last three years combined. One of the recent tragic incidents took place on 2 October when 64 migrants and three crew died when their vessel, sailing from Somalia, sank in the Gulf of Aden. Since, then five more deaths bring the yearly tally for 2014 to 215, exceeding the combined total for 2011, 2012 and 2013 of 179….
The latest deaths come amidst a dramatic increase in the number of new arrivals to Yemen by boat in September. At 12,768, it marks the single biggest month for arrivals since current records began to be kept in 2002. Most of the migrants are Somalis, Ethiopians and Eritreans.
Factors behind the surge are believed to include ongoing drought in South-Central Somalia, as well as the combined effects of conflict, insecurity, and lack of livelihood opportunities in countries of origin. Moreover, “the surge can also be attributed to a decreasing level of cooperation between the countries in the region to better manage migratory movements,” [UNHCR spokesperson James] Spindler said….”
Click here for full UNHCR statement.
In July of this year, Frontex released its first quarter (January – March) 2013 report. As in past quarters, the 70-page report provided in-depth information about irregular migration patterns at the EU external borders. The report is based on data provided by 30 Member State border-control authorities, and presents results of statistical analysis of quarterly variations in eight irregular migration indicators and one asylum indicator (here is a link to our summary of the 2012 fourth quarter report).
In Q1 2013 all indicators of irregular migration were reduced in comparison with the final quarter of 2012. In most instances these declines were consistent with past documentation of seasonal variation; typically the first few months of each year are associated with reduced pressure at the border compared to other times of the year. Here are some highlights from the report focusing on the sea borders:
- The Greek operation Aspida (see the 2012 Q4 summary for details) has resulted in a dramatic reduction of irregular migration across the Greek-Turkish border. As a result, one of the three alternative routes increasingly utilized is: migrants leaving the west coast of Turkey to illegally cross the Eastern Aegean Sea towards the Greek Islands. This border section ranked second at the EU level in terms of detections. Syrians and Afghans were both detected at similar frequencies of around 500 each over the three-month period.
The JO Poseidon Sea 2012 was also active during the reporting period in order to tackle the flow of irregular migrants penetrating the external EU sea borders in the Eastern Mediterranean mainly from Turkey and, to a lesser extent, from Egypt.
Syrians, were increasingly detected at the Greek sea border with Turkey (Eastern Aegean Sea) and the Bulgarian land border with Turkey.
There were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than ever before, with just 9 717 detections. The drop was limited mostly to sea borders.The JO Poseidon Land 2012 was active during Q1 2013.
Here are excerpts from the Report focusing on the sea borders:
- In the Eastern Mediterranean, detections tend to be characterised by Asian and some North African migrants illegally crossing the border from Turkey into Greece. In the second half of 2012 detections were much reduced following increased operational activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where most detections were previously reported (see Section 4.1.1.).
- On the main Central Mediterranean route, which includes the Italian Pelagic Islands (Linosa, Lampione and Lampedusa) and Malta, most detections tend to be of migrants arriving on boats from North Africa. During the previous quarter there were fewer detections of North African nationalities such as Tunisians and Egyptians but there was a surge of migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, the Gambia and Mali, all of which were detected in much higher numbers during the last there months of 2012 compared with Q3 2012. In the current reporting period, the number of detected Somalis decreased, resulting in the top three nationalities – Somalis, Gambians and Egyptians– being detected at similarly low levels of around 200–250 each over the three-month period (Fig. 5).
4.2.1 Eastern Mediterranean Route
In Q1 2013 there were 2 734 detections of il- legal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, which was a decrease of 66% compared to the same period in 2012 but nevertheless still constituting nearly 30% of all detections at the EU level. In effect, this route remained the major entry point to the Schengen area.
With nearly 1 000 detections in Q1 2013, Syrians were by far the most detected nationality on this route. More than half of these detections were in the Eastern Aegean Sea region, with significant numbers also at the Bulgarian land border with Turkey.
East Aegean Sea
This border section ranked second at the EU level in Q1 2013. The most frequently detected migrants were Syrians and Afghans, followed Sri Lankans, whose number has recently increased.
The JO Poseidon Sea 2012 was operational throughout the reporting period, focusing on tackling the flow of irregular migrants penetrating the external EU sea borders in the Eastern Mediterranean mainly from Turkey and, to a lesser extent, from Egypt.
Syrians have been the most commonly detected migrants during the operation so far in 2013. Most were men travelling alone but here were some family units, and all were heading for Sweden or Germany to claim asylum. Once they entered Turkey, those intending to enter the EU travelled to Istanbul in order to make contact with facilitation networks. They stayed in Istanbul for between 1–12 weeks before being taken by van to the west coast of Turkey to depart towards the Greek eastern Aegean Islands.
Afghans were also detected in this region. Most were previously resident in Iran and had decided to travel to the EU due to deteriorating employment conditions. The Afghan community in Iran can easily find criminal networks that can facilitate them to Turkey and then to Greece. Once in Turkey, the Afghan migrants were transported by public transport to Istanbul and from there mainly by private transportation directly to departure area on the western coast of Turkey, where they boarded rubber boats destined for the Greek eastern Aegean Islands.
4.2.2 Central Mediterranean Route
Since early 2011 migrants from Tunisia have been among the most commonly detected migrants arriving in the Central Mediterranean region but during the first three months of 2013 only 75 Tunisians were detected. In fact nearly all of the top 10 nationalities in Q1 2013 were detected in much lower numbers than during the final quarter of 2012.
Migrants from Somalia ranked top in the region but were detected at their lowest level for over a year.
A total of 233 migrants from the Gambia were detected in the Central Mediterranean during Q1 2013 which is the highest ever level for this nationality resulting in them ranking second in this region, followed by 216 Egyptians.
The JO Hermes 2012 was operational just for the first month of the reporting period. The operation was established to support the Italian authorities in tackling maritime illegal migration on the coasts of Sicily, Pantelleria and the Pelagic Islands (Lampedusa, Linosa, Lampione).
In January 2013, there was only one incident reported under JO Hermes whereby a total of 35 irregular migrants were detected, 32 of which were Syrian and three were Egyptian. [***] The disembarkation point was near Syracuse but this time the interception took place inland, implying that the facilitators (and probably some migrants) evaded detection.
The absence of boats from Tunisia and Libya may be due to the bad weather conditions throughout the Mediterranean area.
Although FRAN data suggest that detections of migrants from Syria were low in this region during the first three months of 2013 (85), there were some reports of boats arriving directly from Syria.
4.2.3 Western Mediterranean Route
In Q1 2013 there were only around 1 000 detections of illegal border-crossing in the Western Mediterranean region, which consists of several areas of the southern Spanish coast as well as the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla, where three-quarters of all detections were reported. At the end of 2012 we reported vastly increased detections of migrants from Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea arriving in the region of Cadiz but this did not continue into the first few months of 2013.
Analysing the nationalities detected on this route is problematic as half were reported by the Spanish authorities as being of unknown nationality. However, open sources suggest that there have been increased reports of African migrants storming the border fence in Melilla.
4.2.4 Western African Route
In the first quarter of 2013, there were just a few individual detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, which is the same level as during the same period in 2012. During the previous quarter there were 30 or so detections of both Gambians and Moroccans but neither of these nationalities were apparent in the data exchanged for the first three months of 2013. Hence irregular migration pressure on the Western African route in much reduced.
Click here for a copy of the report.
As it does periodically, Frontex yesterday released a short update regarding the “Central Mediterranean Route.” The timing of its release presumably had nothing to do with the October 3rd disaster at Lampedusa. The update makes no reference to deaths or injuries and focuses on illegal border crossing statistics. (The collection and release of data by Frontex in regard to deaths and injuries would facilitate greater transparency in regard to its border control activities.)
From the update: “Between January and September 2013, more than 31 000 migrants had arrived in the EU using [the Central Mediterranean] route, mainly via Sicily and Lampedusa, but also, to a lesser extent, on the Coasts of Calabria, Puglia and Malta, which is also under increasing migratory pressure. The main nationalities include Eritreans, Somalis and other sub-Saharan Africans, as well as Syrian nationals. It is noteworthy that the migratory pressure over the summer months of 2013 was comparable to the same period in 2011.”
Click here for Update.