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Updated On: Monday, 18 June 2018
Development Issues

IOM Says Migrants to Italy are Slowing

Content by: South-South News

5 March 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The number of migrants arriving by sea to Italy so far this year is less than half the figure for the same time last year and the lowest two-month total reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) since 2014.

Italy is the largest, most active route for migrants fleeing from North Africa to Europe.

IOM says that for January and February of this year, according to figures from the Italian Ministry of Interior, 5,247 migrants have arrived by sea to Italy. For the first two months of last year, 13,446 migrant men, women and children were brought to Italy after being rescued in the waters north of Africa. For the first two months of 2014, almost 7,700 migrants arrived in Italy; in 2015, that figure was almost 7,900; in 2016, there were over 9,000 arrivals.

Joel Millman, spokesperson for IOM, said in Geneva on March 2 that the drop in new arrivals in Italy is significant. “it’s pretty important I think because Italians will vote this weekend. Immigration is a huge issue, obviously. To be able to report that arrivals are less than half of last year’s, at this time, and the lowest in five years I think is rather important,” he said.

Millman said that one contributing factor to the fall in the number of migrants arriving in Italy is IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return program, that assists stranded migrants to return home from Libya. This week alone there have been two flights from Libya, with 3,730 people having been helped by the program so far this year.

He said, “This week we took migrants back to Benin, Mali and Niger and, as I understand it, we’ve done a total of 26 countries that we return from Libya this year, so I think that has had some impact on the flows to I

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