New Year brings familiar stories of migrant deaths and slavery

Less the two weeks into 2018 and the statistics on the IOM Migration Flows website paint a tragic picture.

By 8 January, 81 people were dead or missing having tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Many news websites highlighted the first boat found to be sinking on the Mediterranean route this year.

On average, 60 people a week died on the crossing in 2017, down from 100 a week in 2016. Nearly 34,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since the year 2000.

The three main routes into Europe continue to be through Spain, Italy and Greece.

News reports about refugees, asylum and migration so far this year lack much optimism.

The European Union is working with Libyan coastguards to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. But many of those intercepted end up in detention centres in Libya, where some migrants say they are used as slaves …

One story on the BBC News website brought testimony from a Nigerian man about slavery in Libya, something the CTBI team heard from young men they spoke to during their visit to Lampedusa and Sicily last April. This follows stories that were reported during summer 2017.

On the same website, a video report for the Victoria Derbyshire programme highlights the plight of around 700 people who continue to live rough around Calais, hoping to travel to the UK, while French police try to stop a new camp from being formed.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that the mayor of the Greek island of Lesbos fears that worsening relations between Greece and Turkey will provoke thousands of migrants to cross into Greece in response. Lesbos is already struggling to cope with overcrowded camps.

Turkey is furious at the Greek decision to grant asylum to a Turkish pilot who it believes played a leading role in an attempt to overthrow the government and assassinate President Erdogan in July 2016.