A total of 53,912 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 as of May 14, with nearly 85 per cent arriving in Italy, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

The total arrivals this year compares with 189,075 in the same period of 2016, IOM said.

The number of people who arrived in Italy till May 14 was 45,118, against 32,292 last year, according to IOM.

There were 1,316 fatalities through 14 May, around two-thirds of the 1,905 deaths worldwide over the same period, IOM's Missing Migrants Project reports.

Over 5,000 migrants perished at sea last year, making it the deadliest year on record, as people traffickers crammed larger numbers of people into unseaworthy boats, increasingly flimsy inflatable dinghies.