Real number of Migrant Death Far Higher as Many Deaths Never Recorded
Berlin - IOM, the UN Migration Agency has released a new report on migrant deaths and disappearances worldwide through its Berlin-based Global Migration Data Analysis Centre.
Since 2014, more than 23,000 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded globally by the IOM. The real number is likely to be much higher as many deaths are never recorded.
The report is the third volume in IOM’s Fatal Journeys series. This volume focuses on how to improve data on missing migrants in order to prevent further deaths, and to enable the families left behind to learn more about the fate of their relatives. Many families continue to spend years living in limbo, not knowing whether a loved one is alive or dead as so few bodies of missing migrants are identified.
Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving Data on Missing Migrants is published in two parts. Part one of the report, released today, examines the challenges of collecting data on missing migrants. Part two of the report, to be released in November, provides in-depth regional analysis of the data currently available.
The first chapter of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 – Part 1 provides an update of data on global migrant fatalities since 2014, and highlights the risks faced by migrant women and children. Data collected by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, the only existing database on migrant deaths at the global level, are used to present the known number and profile of dead and missing migrants in different regions of the world.
A growing number of innovative sources of data on missing migrants could be used to improve data on migrant fatalities. One chapter of the report shows, for example, that the analysis of “big data” can provide a better understanding of the context of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Other approaches, such as surveying migrants who may have witnessed a death, can improve data in regions where few deaths are currently recorded.
The report stresses that much more could be done to gather data to increase identification rates, such as developing intraregional mechanisms to share data more effectively. One approach highlighted in the report is the work of forensic teams in Latin America, which have been working together with NGOs and governments to promote the sharing of data to facilitate the identification of missing migrants.
Improving data on missing migrants also requires more thought and improved practice in the use and communication of such data. It is not sufficient to collect data on missing migrants if they are not interpreted and presented accurately and in a balanced manner.
The report underlines that the problems in communicating data can also be observed in global media coverage of migrant deaths and disappearances. Current standards of media coverage vary widely, and the tone of the content ranges from humanitarian concern to reproduction of negative narratives about migration.
The inclusion of migration in the United Nations’ 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the commitment of States to promote safe, orderly and regular migration, require improved data on indicators of “unsafe migration”. Improving information and reporting on who these missing migrants are, where they come from, and above all, when they are most at risk, is crucial to building a holistic response to reduce the number of migrant deaths.
Fatal Journeys Volume 3 was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and can be found here: https://publications.iom.int/books/fatal-journeys-volume-3-part-1-improving-data-missing-migrants.
For more information, please contact:
Julia Black, Missing Migrants Project in Berlin, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Laczko, IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in Berlin, Tel: + 49 30 278 778 20, Email: email@example.com