Since 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded the deaths of more than 22,500 migrants worldwide. This figure is a significant measure of the human toll of unsafe migration, but still fails to capture the true number of people who have died or gone missing on their journey for a better life.

– Foreword, ‘Fatal Journeys’

In September 2017 the International Organization of Migration launched ‘Fatal Journeys’, a study on improving data on missing migrants, with a chapter written by the EJN, at the Frontline Club in London.

This event shared the key messages of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 – Part 1, the third volume of the global report on migrant fatalities published by IOM.  The editors of the report spoke about three sets of issues: (i) what we know (ii) gaps and how to improve data on missing migrants (iii) the role of the media.

The EJN’s Director Aidan White, co-wrote the third chapter, ‘Challenges faced by the media in reporting migrant deaths’, with Ann Singleton a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol and Senior Advisor to the International Organisation of Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC). The chapter focuses on the ethical challenges of reporting on the missing and dead, and how can information be presented without de-humanising the victims or breaching their rights to privacy.

IOM’s Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving Data on Missing Migrants

Research from the IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC)


6:00 pm Registration

6:15 pm Welcoming remarks, Introduction to the report

Speaker: Frank Laczko (Co-Editor of Fatal Journeys Volume 3, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre)

Session 1:  Overview of what we know: migrant deaths around the world

6:30-6:45 pm

The first session will provide an overview of migrant deaths and disappearances globally, based on the data collected through the Missing Migrants Project at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre.  Data sources and challenges will also be discussed.

Speakers:  Julia Black (Project Coordinator, Missing Migrants Project),  

Ann Singleton  (Co-editor of Fatal Journeys Volume 3, Senior Adviser to IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre and Senior Research Fellow at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol)

Session 2:  Challenges faced by the media in reporting migrant deaths

6:45-7:00 pm

The second session will focus on mainstream media’s role in the coverage of missing migrants.  The chapter co-authored by the speaker addresses questions such as: what are the ethical challenges of reporting on the missing and dead, and how can information be presented without de-humanising the victims or breaching their rights to privacy?

Speakers:  Ann Singleton, with Tom Law from the Ethical Journalism Network

Session 3:  The way forward: Improving data on Missing Migrants

7:00-7:15 pm

The concluding session will look at the report’s key recommendations, including the use of new data sources, improving the rate of identification, and communicating data on missing migrants differently.

Speaker:  Frank Laczko

Background on UN Migration Agency Publications on Migrant Disappearances

From the IOM web blog:

In order to prevent migrant deaths and disappearances, practical protection measures are needed to guarantee safe and regular ways for migrants to reach their destinations. Collecting and presenting information about who these migrants are, where they come from and why they move is the first indispensable step to understanding the phenomenon of irregular migration and to designing evidence-based, effective policy responses to prevent disappearances.

IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre has coordinated and contributed to two upcoming publications on issues relating to how best to measure migrant disappearances. The third volume of IOM’s Fatal Journeys report, to be released on 12 September, focuses on improving data on missing migrants. A special issue of IOM’s Migration Policy Practice journal, to be released this Friday, 1 September, highlights innovative approaches to data on irregular migration.

Fatal Journeys Volume 3 – Part 1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants

On September 12, IOM will release Part 1 of the third volume of its Fatal Journeys global report on missing migrants.  This year’s report focuses on how to improve data on migrants who die or go missing on their journeys.  Collecting and analysing information on the profiles of such persons, including their place of origin, age, sex and motivations for migrating, is a first and indispensable step to designing policy responses and practical protection measures to prevent further loss of life.

The first chapter of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 – Part 1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants begins with a global overview of data on migrant deaths and disappearances between 2014 and the first half of 2017, using the data collected by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.

In the report, experts from different relevant fields make suggestions for improving data on migrant deaths that fall under three themes: using innovation methodologies, improving identification rates in partnership with families, and communicating data differently.

In providing analysis of data on migrant fatalities and making recommendations for better data collection, Fatal Journeys Volume 3 aims to spark a prompt and unified response from all. By all accounts, the time to act is now, and we are already late.

Migration Policy Practice Vol. VII, Number 2

The next edition of the Migration Policy Practice journal will also be published this Friday, 1 September, with seven articles on the theme of innovations in data on irregular migration.  Articles in the volume critically analyse data on irregular migration, including migrant fatalities, smuggling and circular migration, and also provide examples of promising methodologies that could be replicated elsewhere in the world.

Measuring and collecting data on irregular migration is fundamental to addressing the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, and particularly Goal 10.7, which aims to facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

One way of measuring safe migration is to look at the risk of death that migrants face as they travel irregularly.  However, there are stark challenges involved in collecting data on migrant fatalities, particularly when it comes to those who are recorded as missing and presumed dead.

In another article, findings from research along the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes to Europe and on the US-Mexico border similarly show how an overly simplistic understanding of smuggling practices hides the nuances of different cultural and community contexts that are vital to target violent and predatory forms of smuggling.

In terms of existing resources, the special issue of Migration Policy Practice discusses how the large-scale surveys carried out by IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) can be used to understand who is at risk of trafficking during irregular migration journeys.

Articles written on the work of both DTM and the Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi) in Afghanistan demonstrate complementary and innovative ways of collecting data on irregular migration in places where governments do not have the capacity to undertake such activities.

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