IOM Joins Workshop Promoting Expertise in Search for Missing Migrants

Migration Research, Missing Migrants

Guatemala – The international workshop Clarifying the Fate and Whereabouts of Missing Migrants: Exchanging Information along Migratory Routes is taking place this week (15-16 May) in Antigua, Guatemala, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team.  

“Much progress is needed to help families find out what has happened to their missing loved ones, and organizations must work together to do as much as possible to address this challenge,” said Frank Laczko, director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, which runs the organization’s Missing Migrants Project. 

The workshop will bring together experts and representatives from governmental agencies and inter- and non-governmental organizations, as well as the families of missing migrants, from around the world. The aim of the event is to draw on current initiatives in Central America and other regions to develop common technical standards for collecting and exchanging data on missing migrants for humanitarian purposes. 

“Indeed, around the world, the families of tens of thousands of missing migrants are looking for answers,” noted Caroline Douilliez, Head of Project at ICRC. “Using the ICRC’s long-standing expertise in helping the missing and their loved ones, we want to strengthen collaboration among existing initiatives and improve international action on this tragic reality.”  

Learning when, where, how and how many migrants disappear can help illuminate what makes migration unsafe and who is most at risk. But this kind of information is currently scarce, a testament to how this issue and the people it most affects have been neglected. Coordinated data collection is key to tackling the complex challenge of searching for missing migrants along routes that often traverse not just countries but continents. 

The workshop is part of the ICRC’s Missing Persons Project, a four-year initiative to improve the worldwide response to people who have gone missing owing to armed conflict, internal violence, natural disasters and migration by creating a global community of practice and common technical standards. 

“Migration – and migrants going missing – is an everyday reality. We urgently need to create dynamic and efficient regional systems to search for the missing in a way that is both rapid and respectful of their dignity,” says Mercedes Doretti, coordinator of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team's Border Project, a network of governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions that collects and exchanges data on the people who go missing along the Central America–Mexico–United States migrant corridor. 

For more information please contact: Julia Black, IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: