IOM records over 32,000 migrant deaths since 2014-report

A NEW report from the International Organisation for Migration stated more than 32,000 people have died while migrating illegally between 2014 to 2018.

The report titled “Fatal Journeys (volume 4): Missing Migrant Children” was launched on Friday at UNICEF’s office in Newyork.

Of the 32,000 migrants’ deaths, 17,900 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean sea where the remains of almost two-thirds of these victims, have not been recovered. It noted that around 1,600 were children, an average of one every day. But many more cases of deaths and missing go unrecorded, the report revealed.

As explained in the report, a re-introduction of border checks and increased militarization of the border by some countries to disallow travelling to Europe have resulted in “migrants being forced to take more dangerous routes, such as the Col de l’Échelle mountain pass across the French Alps”. Taking the routes led to the death of a  21-year-old Nigerian lady and two Guinean men in 2018, the report documented.

It also included that at least 231 people died in West African countries mainly Nigeria, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso in 2018.


The top causes of illegal migrants’ deaths include drowning, sickness and lack of access to medicine.

Testimonies from migrants interviewed by Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative show that people die due to sickness and lack of access to medicines, dehydration, harsh weather, lack of adequate shelter and vehicle accidents in 2018.

Among all cases documented for Nigeria was a case of a 21-year-old youth named as Rene from Delta State. He left Nigeria in 2016 when he was 18 years old with the aim of reaching Europe. He recounted that it took him two months to travel through the Niger and into Libya while being beaten and abused. “‘We woke up to see dead bodies around us at certain points,” Rene described his experience.

The IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that produced the report highlighted the need for better data on migrants deaths and disappearances, particularly for children who are one of the most vulnerable groups of migrants.

Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s GMDAC said “the lack of data on the ages, characteristics and vulnerabilities of missing migrant children creates serious protection gaps. “It makes it very difficult to create programs and policies designed to protect them.”


Though the report indicates that there is a sharp drop in deaths between 2017 and 2018 —to 4,734 from 6,280—stems largely from a drop in the number of migrants using the Central Mediterranean route to Europe, IOM said the risk of death along the routes increased.

According to IOM’s Missing Migrant Project, 1242 cases of deaths have been recorded so far in 2019 between January 1 to June 27. The areas where high fatalities occurred in 2019 include the Mediterranean Sea, US-Mexico Border, Carribean, Horn of Africa, and Central America.

In November 2017, Italy performed a mass funeral for 26 young female Nigerians that drowned while crossing the  Mediterranean Sea.


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