Call to Attention
The Missing Migrants Project by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports a staggering 3,123 migrant fatalities recorded worldwide in 2018 (November 5, 2018). This data comes from IOM, national authorities, and media sources, “tracking incidents which involve migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, who have died or gone missing in the process of of migration towards an international destination.”
Month with highest number of fatalities worldwide: June
Region with the highest number of fatalities worldwide: Mediterranean, 1,989 (more than half the total number of fatalities)
Countries of origin with the highest number of migrant deaths: Africa, 538; mixed/unknown regions, 1,180
Top causes of death is by drowning (Mediterranean, Americas) or due to vehicle accidents (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia).
The good news is that after peaking at 8,070 in 2016, the fatalities in total have been at its lowest since 2014. However, it’s hard to ignore that this data represents a problem in the secure transportation of migrants from the country of origin to the host country. It’s not clear whether this is a result of the lack of social infrastructure and support available in the country of origin or in the host country, but one certainty is that there are particular routes which are not regulated, dangerous, and leave a lot of migrants behind.
The Missing Migrants Project
In the briefing prepared by the IOM’s data analysis center in Berlin, 1 in 36 migrants attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean route perished in 2017. The number of fatalities in this region has significantly increased from 1 in 88 migrants reported missing or dead in 2016.
It also describes how the Central Mediterranean route is known to be one of the deadliest routes in the world, with 14,500 deaths recorded in the area since 2014. Increased dangerous smuggling practices are attributed as one of many factors that have made this route unsafe and perilous. It has been reported that smugglers are increasingly using vessels which are not safe for sea, contributing to the aforementioned deaths by drowning.
However, the frequency of large-scale incidents with 100 or more deaths/disappearances have decreased. In the first seven months of 2017, six incidents that resulted in a total of 929 dead or missing occurred. In the same period in 2016, the number was a lot higher at 1,849. Also, the number of people dying from large-scale incidents have decreased from 63% in 2016 to 42% 2017. What this means is that although there is room for improvement in securing safer vessels for migrants, these statistics may also be indicative that search and rescue efforts in the region are becoming more effective.
What does it mean to promote and work towards safe, regular, orderly, and responsible migration for all?
There’s a need to ensure migrants at all stages of their transition have improved accessibility and security.
The Global Compact for Migration rests on the premise of the UN Charter of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, among other core human rights treaties. It continues to the narrative towards promoting peace, diversity, and human dignity, to fully optimize the positive impacts of migration by improving migration governance, as it serves as a source for human prosperity, innovation, and sustainable development in our globalized world.
We do not want to let go of 3,123 migrants again, let alone one. Taking steps to improve policy and governance over migration is a way for their lives to be remembered with dignity and respect.
*Updated on Nov 8, 2018 at 09:58 EST
Since the release of this article, there are now 3,180 recorded migrant fatalities. Within the past 48 hours, there have been 57 more lives that have perished.