According to the World Migration Report, it is estimated that 272 million people are migrants, which is equivalent to 3.5% of the world's population.
Every year, hundreds of these people die crossing deserts, rivers or remote areas on the different migratory routes of the American continent. The actual number of those who die during their journey through this region is unknown, but the records compiled by the Missing Migrants Project indicate that between 2014 and 2018 at least 3,015 people lost their lives and only from January to September 2020, 365 people have died in the Americas.
Many of the deaths of migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean occur on the border between the United States and Mexico. According to the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, it is estimated that between 72,000 and 120,000 migrants disappeared between 2006 and 2016. On this route, migrants face risks such as: dehydration, extortion by organized criminal groups, and exposure to accidents, falls and other dangers related to traveling through places with inhospitable topography. Many of these people know (some) of the dangers of the migratory process they will undertake, but sometimes they have lost so much in their countries of origin that, according to the declarations of some migrants, they are not even afraid of losing their life during the migratory journey.
Missing Migrants Project (MMP)
The IOM MMP is a global open database on migrants’ deaths and disappearances. Data on the origin, location, and cause of death of these people are compiled to provide a detailed data analysis, with the fundamental premise of counteracting the invisibility of this issue. The Project is based on a Human Rights approach, with the firm premise that the data are humanising and that they support the generation of public policies, as well as provide information to migrant families who make tracking requests.
It also seeks to contribute to the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goal 10, specifically of its target 10.7, "facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies"; indicator 10.7.3 "number of people who died or disappeared in the process of migration towards an international destination" and Goal 8 of the Global Compact on Migration, "save lives and prevent migrant deaths and injuries”.
Since 2014, the MMP has documented the death and disappearance of more than 35,000 women, men and children. In 2019 alone, the MMP registered 5,303 deaths, hence exceeding the sum of 4,000 deaths through migratory processes for the fifth consecutive year. Historical data estimate at least 75,000 deaths on migratory travel since 1996.
Who is a Missing Migrant according to the MMP?
There are no universally accepted definitions for the terms “missing migrant” or death “during the migratory process”. This has repercussions on the data that is collected and recorded.
According to the MMP’s criterion, missing migrants are people who have died at the external borders of the states, or during the migratory process to an international destination, as well as those who presumably deceased, due to their disappearance during the journey. This selection criterion does not consider deaths in reception or detention centres of migrants, deaths of migrants in irregular migration status while residing in a foreign country (as a result of labor exploitation, for example, or deaths related to internal displacement) or reports of missing persons in destination countries.
By gererating "humanizing data", the project transcends the conventional compilation of information, giving a face to each and every one of these disappeared migrants, making visible the harsh conditions they face during their migratory transit.
Making visible the invisible
It is necessary to understand through empathy what it means for a person to have to leave their country of origin, especially if they do so out of the desire to improve their quality of life or that of their family, or because their very existence is in danger.
It is even harsher to imagine that a human being who dies or disappears during their migration process will never be able to experience that reunion, that hug, that smile or new opportunity on the other side of the border, where a family, children, partner or loved ones will remain, waiting and searching with a permanent anxiety.
To help understand this terrible situation and make visible the invisible, the MMP is currently generating a mapping and identification process with the IOM offices, as well as with government institutions, NGOs and the media that can serve as liaisons and focal points to facilitate data on deceased and missing migrants in the region.
With the creation of this network of actors, it is intended to achieve a multilateral articulation that can be a mechanism for the collection, identification and monitoring of data of deceased or disappeared migrants, that encourages global access to the responsible analysis of data on migration and that develops the ability of States and other relevant partners to improve the evidence base for national, regional and global migration.
If you want to know more about the project, you can visit their website missingmigrants.iom.int.
For more information about the process of creating the network with IOM offices, government institutions, NGOs, the media and journalists, you can write to: email@example.com