News & Events


The number of deaths at sea in 2014 continues to rise and has reached unprecedented levels since 2010. Data collection has become a crucial element to understanding the profiles of those who are most at risk. This was the main topic of discussion on Wednesday, December 3rd at the IOM office in London where Frank Laczko, Head of the IOM Migration Research Division, presented the findings of the report “Fatal Journeys: Tracking lives lost during Migration”.

The document, published by IOM in October 2014, is the first ever research estimating the number of migrant deaths in border areas around the world.

The report aims to contribute to the efforts to reduce fatalities occurring during migration through the collection of data to inform and develop tailored policies to protect potentially vulnerable migrants in border crossings. The presentation was attended by a number of leading organisations working in the Mediterranean region, such as UNHCR and the British Red Cross.

It is estimated that over 4,400 migrants have died around the world in 2014, and over 70% of these have occurred in the Mediterranean Sea. This is 80% higher than the number recorded in 2013 (2,400). Improved and publicly accessible data on migrant deaths is a crucial element to determine the causes, promote accountability and tailor an active response against these continued fatalities.

The lack of reliable sources, missing information and the involvement of smugglers and criminal actors are among the limitations in tracking the deaths of irregular migrants. “By putting a number on deaths, even if it is only an educated estimate, we at least acknowledge the existence of these deaths… a quantified tragedy that must be addressed” stated Laczko.

IOM has captured data on deaths during migration through its Missing Migrants Project and will use its social media networks to engage with migrants that have made the dangerous journeys across sea to build a better picture of the motivations and consequences of such migration routes.

The presentation comes amid growing concerns over a report that there have been at least three fatal migrant shipwrecks since December 5th, where as many as 100 migrants have lost their lives off African coasts near Spain, Italy and Yemen. These figures demonstrate how winter’s approach has not significantly curbed the number of migrants seeking safety, nor altered the lethal nature of many of these voyages.

For more information on the Missing Migrants Project, please click here. The full report on report “Fatal Journeys: Tracking lives lost during Migration” can be downloaded at here.

For more information please contact Jenniffer Dew