Migrant Deaths and Disappearances Worldwide: 2016 Analysis

Germany - A new data briefing produced by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) highlights a 27 percent increase in migrant deaths worldwide during 2016 compared to 2015. The number of migrant deaths and disappearances recorded by IOM increased significantly in many regions of the world, including the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America.

Issue 8 of IOM’s GMDAC data briefing series, titled “Migrant Deaths and Disappearances Worldwide: 2016 Analysis”, provides an in-depth look at the recorded data on migrant deaths and disappearances throughout 2016. Key figures for regions in which migrant deaths have been recorded – namely, the Mediterranean Sea, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Americas – are explored.

“In 2016, IOM documented the deaths of 7,763 migrants worldwide,” said GMDAC Director Frank Laczko. “This represents an increase of 27 percent compared to 2015, and of 47 percent compared to 2014.”

Data collected by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project show that more than 5,085 migrants died in the Mediterranean in 2016 – a 34 percent increase compared to the 3,784 recorded 2015. This increase in deaths occurred despite increased search and rescue efforts compared with the previous year. 

The increase of fatalities along the Central Mediterranean route is striking. In 2016, the number of deaths in the Central Mediterranean was the highest number recorded by IOM since 2014. The number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean is higher than any year since at least 2000. The average number of deaths per incident in the Central Mediterranean almost doubled last year, from an average of 12 deaths per incident in 2015 to 33 deaths per incident in 2016.

The briefing also discusses the increase in the number of migrant deaths recorded in Africa. At least 1,280 migrant deaths were recorded in North Africa in 2016, nearly double the 672 deaths recorded in the region in 2015. Though this increase may be indicative of improved data collection efforts in the region, data compiled by Missing Migrants Project indicate that migration routes through southern Libya, in eastern Sudan and southern Egypt are highly risky for migrants. 

The number of migrant deaths recorded in the Americas, including the Caribbean, also increased significantly in 2016. IOM´s Missing Migrants project recorded 707 deaths in the Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016, an increase of 43 percent over the 493 recorded in 2015.

The increase in migrant deaths and disappearances across many regions of the world, as highlighted by the data discussed in the briefing, indicate that migration became less – not more – safe.

The data briefing can be found here:

For further information please contact: Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: