According to the UNHCR,
just over 30,000 refugees travelling in boats across the Mediterranean have arrived in Greece, Italy and Spain this year.
The number of refugees is therefore likely to remain well below previous years’ levels. 2015 was the year that saw most migrants arrive across the Mediterranean by far, with their number exceeding one million.
Regardless, tensions among European nations have been running high around the topic. A number of humanitarian missions who dispatch boats with the goal of helping refugee vessels in peril have recently had run-ins with authorities in Mediterranean countries. While assisting boats in trouble in one's vicinity is the law for anyone operating seaborne vessels, the issue around refugee rescue missions has been highly politicized.
After captain Claus-Peter Reisch of German NGO Mission Lifeline was sentenced in a Maltese court earlier this year to pay 10,000 euros (US$ 11,200) over claims his ship wasn’t registered properly (he appealed), captain Carola Rackete of another German NGO has been arrested in Italy. The captain for Berlin-based organization Sea-Watch moored her ship with 40 migrants on board in the port of Lampedusa Island against the will of the Italian authorities. Charges against her were dismissed by an Italian court in the beginning of July.