Global migration has soared to record highs, in the past few years. It has become a common thing, where tens of thousands of people either disappear or die during their journeys, and are never seen again. Over time, an increasing number of migrants have died in deserts, drowned, or fallen prey to traffickers. Moreover, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries around the world. Besides, in most cases, the track of these deaths is not being kept.
An Associated Press (AP) tally recorded at least 56,800 migrants as dead or missing worldwide, since 2014. The figures are almost double than those recorded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the United Nations, that is, over 28,500 as of October 1. IOM’s initiative was the only official attempt to try counting such migrants.
IOM research took place after the October 2013 incident, where at least 368 people were found dead off the coast of Italy, and two shipwrecks were reported. It has focused mostly on fatalities in the Mediterranean, despite its researchers’ plea for more data from elsewhere in the world.
This year, the organization has found over 1,900 deaths in the waters that divide Africa and Europe, and more than 17,000 since 2014.
Although, several of those migrants that go missing are uncounted, including boatfuls of young Tunisians or Algerians and children whose parents lost track of them in the chaos of land border crossings.
Statistics from The Associated Press highlighted that families of nearly 4,900 people say they simply disappeared without a trace in Europe or en route. The numbers include more than 2,700 children whose families reported them missing to the Red Cross.
Research suggests that Europe has been the most cruelly visible amongst the global migration crisis, with death playing out in videos and photographs, including pictures of lifeless body of Kurdish toddler on the beach, frozen tent camps, and a succession of deadly shipwrecks.
In the Mediterranean, migrants take on-way trips towards Europe, through tankers, cargo boats, cruise ships, military vessels and even larger wooden boats that can carry hundreds of people.
As the political tide turned against migrants in Europe, investments in the projects to track migration data decreased. The April 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Italy is a fine example, where the funding to identify the dead migrants and find their families were cut off under the new populist government.
The Fox News reported about a story of a troop that left from Tunisia to Europe in a boat, in May 2011. Eight hours from when they left, 11 young men from the group went missing, two death bodies were fetched, and only one of them survived.
On the other hand, Tunisia and neighboring Algeria are transit points for other Africans north bound for Europe. Tunisia — like Italy, Greece and Turkey— has its own cemetery for unidentified migrants.
While the numbers of migrants dying and disappearing are increasing, the reason behind it remains a mystery. There is a need to officially investigate the issue and discover the cause of rising migrants’ death tolls.