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Fatal journeys

Tracking lives lost during migration

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In October 2013, over 400 people lost their lives in two highly publicized shipwrecks close to the Italian island of Lampedusa, but sadly, they are not isolated incidents. Estimates in 2013 and 2014 reach close to 6,500 lost lives of migrants in border regions around the world. Many deaths occur in remote areas and are never reported. This publication investigates how border-related deaths are documented, who is documenting them, and what can be done to improve the evidence base to encourage informed accountability, policy and practice. Included are migration routes through Central America to the United States, with a focus on the United States–Mexico border region; the southern European Union bordering the Mediterranean; routes from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa; routes taken by migrants emigrating from the Horn of Africa towards the Gulf or Southern Africa; and the waters surrounding Australia.

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Counting migrant deaths: An international overview

On 3 October 2013, over 360 people lost their lives travelling from Libya to Lampedusa, Italy, when their boat sank just a quarter-mile from its destination. With roughly 500 passengers jammed into a 20-metre-long boat, efforts to attract attention following engine trouble led to a fire that engulfed the ship in flames. Survivors tell horrifying stories of hours spent in the sea as their companions died around them. A second shipwreck near Lampedusa later in the month resulted in a further 34 deaths. While these events are tragic and alarming, they are not isolated incidents. IOM estimates that between January and September 2014, at least 4,077 migrants died attempting to reach destinations around the world. This figure is nearly 70 per cent higher than the 2,400 deaths recorded for the whole of 2013, largely driven by increases in the Mediterranean region. Since year 2000, IOM estimates that at least 40,000 migrants have died.

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