Fatal journeys

Tracking lives lost during migration

image of Fatal journeys
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.



Migrant deaths in the Americas (United States and Mexico)

Over the past two decades, a crisis of unknown proportions has unfolded along migrant routes from the United Mexican States and Central America to the United States of America. From their homes to their destinations, migrants in North America are exposed to disproportionate levels of risk of human rights violations, disappearance and death. The true number of deaths of migrants in transit is unknown, but the existing numbers, thought to be incomplete, are in the thousands. The absence of complete data on the dead and missing along migrant routes represents a secondary crisis beyond the initial loss of life of hundreds of migrants each year (Jimenez, 2009; Martínez et al., 2013; Martínez et al., 2014). Not only does this absence of information present “a serious barrier to determining the steps that need to be taken to mitigate the prevalence of migrant deaths along the border” (Amnesty International, 2012:17), but it also presents serious challenges to the identification of the dead. Thousands of families wait without answers regarding the whereabouts of missing loved ones.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error