Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Death toll among migrants higher than reported

7 November 20180 comments

Migrant and refugee deaths and disappearances since 2014 total nearly 58,000 or almost double the official count, according to a new investigation by the Associated Press.

The UN’s migration agency IOM had reported the number of dead and missing migrants in the past four years as 28,500.

But the Associated Press has documented more than 56,800 migrants as being dead or missing worldwide since 2014.

News organisation AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, forensic records, missing persons reports, death records, as well as examining data from thousands of interviews with migrants.

And AP says its tally is almost certainly an undercount.

It says bodies may lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea and that families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.

Others hope for their return.

The AP investigation says at least an extra 12,945 people who have migrated from Africa –are missing, far above the IOM figure of 5,531.

It also says that an additional 4,892 people – on top of the IOM’s figure of 17,475 – have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean.

An extra 3,410 people are missing from Latin America, over and above the IOM’s estimate of 414. While 5,463 more people are missing in the Middle East and Asia, more than the IOM figure of 2,736.

The official UN toll extensively documents deaths in the Mediterranean and Europe, but there are cases that go unreported.

With the political tide turning against migrants in Europe and the US, money for projects that document the plight of migrants and refugees is becoming harder to get.

When, for example, more than 800 perished in April 2015 in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy – Europe’s deadliest migrant sea disaster – Italian investigators pledged to identify them and find their families.

Three years later, under a new nationalist government, funding for this work has been axed.


Laurie Nowell

AMES Australia Senior Journalist