IOM's Fatal Journeys Reveals How Data Collection on Missing Migrants Can Be Improved

Posted: 
12/05/17
Themes: 
Migration Research

Since 2014, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented more than 25,000 migrant deaths and disappearances around the world. However, a new report released by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) today indicates that this figure does not reflect the true number of deaths which occur during migration worldwide. In many regions of the world anecdotal and unofficial reports indicate that many more migrant deaths and disappearances occur than are recorded.

The new report, the second part of Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving data on missing migrants, provides an in-depth look at the challenges of collecting data on migrant fatalities in six regions: the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Central America, South America, and Europe and the Mediterranean. Each chapter also explores how data collection can be improved.

The many challenges specific to each region mean that data on migrant deaths may never be complete, however significant improvements could be made across the world. Fatal Journeys 3 makes five key recommendations based on the innovative methodologies discussed in part one, and the regional comparisons made in part two of the report:

1. Make better use of administrative data
Local, national and regional authorities should collect and publish data on migrant deaths and disappearances. These authorities should standardize collection procedures and methodologies so that the data might be more easily compared.

2. Promote survey-based data collection
In areas where few official data exist, survey-based data collection should include collecting eyewitness testimonies from migrants who have witnessed the deaths of their peers.

3. Explore new technologies
New and emerging data collection techniques and sources, such as big data, can improve the quality and coverage of data on missing migrants.

4. Work with civil society and families
The needs of families of missing migrants should be considered at all stages of data collection and processing of deceased migrants. Families and civil society groups can provide key information to aid the identification of migrants who have died or gone missing.

5. Improve data sharing
One of the most achievable ways to improved data on missing migrants worldwide is to improve communication between actors working on the issue. Data on missing migrants are often scattered and fragmented, and data sharing should be promoted wherever possible in order to maximize accuracy.

While the dangerous journeys of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean Sea have been widely reported since 2013, most migrant deaths likely occur in large unpatrolled spaces, and are not captured in the coverage of migration ‘crises’. The attention on the Mediterranean has led to better data on migrant deaths en route to Europe, but there is little public or policy awareness of the risks migrants encounter before they reach the coasts of Turkey and North Africa.
Improving data on migrant deaths is extremely important at a time when states are discussing how best to achieve safer migration. Building upon the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which calls for safe, ordinary and regular migration, the Global Compact for Migration will be signed in 2018. Gathering more and better-quality data on deaths that occur during migration is essential to improving the evidence base for these policy discussions.
For further information, please refer to the full report, available here.

For further information you may also contact:

Frank Laczko, Director, IOM GMDAC, Berlin, Tel: +49 (0) 151 11676795 - Email: flaczko@iom.int
Julia Black, Missing Migrants Project Coordinator, IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: jblack@iom.int