Migrant sea deaths in the Mediterranean have dropped to the lowest levels in years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Saturday.
According to the IOM, 515 migrants have either died or gone missing in the first five months of 2019, compared to 664 during the same period of 2018; 1,738 in 2017; 2,557 in 2016; and 1,806 in 2015. Of those who died in 2019, only 260 died in the “Central Mediterranean Route,” which would be headed toward Italy.
Migrant arrivals to Europe have correspondingly dropped, with 24,687 arriving in Europe in the first five months of 2019, compared to 43,765 in 2018; 76,501 in 2017; and 212,981 in 2016, during the same period.
Last January, Italian daily La Verità reported that “the Salvini method works,” referring to plummeting migrant deaths following the border controls put in place by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has insisted that open ports fuel human trafficking and encourage migrants to undertake perilous sea crossings.
There was no solution under the former Matteo Renzi government, the newspaper observed, because Mr. Renzi insisted he could do nothing without European Union (E.U.) approval and then wrung his hands when the E.U. did nothing to resolve the problem.
“The proof is that after years of useless chatter the departures and arrivals have diminished, indeed almost ceased,” the newspaper declared. “And with falling departures and arrivals, the deaths have also declined. Yes, the statistics say that despite alarms raised by NGOs, as the number of refugees who board a vessel is reduced, deaths have also been reduced.”
Last February, the head of Italy’s largest migrant reception center said that policies encouraging mass migration had done far more harm than good to Italy and to migrants.
Francesco Magnano, the director of the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers (CARA) of Mineo, said that left-wing “do-gooder” activists helped lead to thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean.
“From 2014 to 2017, our ports have been opened without limits and we have recorded 15,000 deaths at sea,” Magnano said, adding that closing the borders, as Mr. Salvini has done, would “force Germany and France to sit down at the negotiating table.”
According to the United Nations’ migrant department (UNHCR), 2,269 migrants sea deaths occurred in the Mediterranean during 2018 after Mr. Salvini took over as interior minister, down from 3,139 in 2017 and 5,096 in 2016, when migration across the Mediterranean to Europe was at its peak.
Italy saw a remarkable drop in immigrant arrivals in 2018, with 23,370, down from 119,369 the previous year, the UNHCR reported.
The decline in migrant sea deaths due to tougher immigration policies would seem to demonstrate that tighter borders help save lives, contrary to the fallacious argument to the contrary, La Verità noted.