More Deaths Recorded in the Americas in 2019 than in Previous Years: IOM

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Berlin – At least 810 people died crossing deserts, rivers and remote terrain on different migration routes across the Americas in 2019, making the year one of deadliest on record, according to data from the Missing Migrants Project (MMP) collected at IOM’s Data Analysis Centre in Berlin.   

The records, compiled from official government data as well as NGO and media reports, indicate that this is the highest number of deaths documented in this region since IOM began keeping records six years ago. More than 3,800 deaths have been recorded in the Americas since 2014. 

“These numbers are a sad reminder that the lack of options for safe and legal mobility pushes people onto more invisible and riskier paths, putting them at greater danger,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Data Analysis Centre.  

“The loss of lives should never be normalized nor tolerated as an assumed risk of irregular migration.” 

The United States–Mexico border region is one of the most visible sites of migrant deaths in the Americas. MMP has recorded a growing number of deaths on this border every year since 2014, documenting a total of 2,403 over six years, including 497 in 2019. Most deaths were recorded in the waters of the Río Bravo/Rio Grande, which runs between Texas and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila, where 109 people lost their lives in 2019, a 26 per cent increase from the 86 deaths recorded in 2018.  

Many people also attempt the crossing through the remote rugged terrain of the vast Arizona deserts. At least 171 people lost their lives in this part of the border in 2019, a 29 per cent increase over the 133 deaths documented in this area in 2018. 

Sources: US Border Patrol’s Southwest Border Apprehensions, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project 


Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here. The report Fatal Journey Volume 4, published on 28 June 2019, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019. 

For all the latest data on migrant deaths on the US-Mexico border, visit the Missing Migrants Project website here. Raw data can be downloaded from 

For more information, please contact:  

Joel Millman, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:  

Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:  

The Fight Against Xenophobia in Central America has the Support of Governments, United Nations and Civil Society

Date Publish: 
28 / 02 / 2020

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) presented, on the 26th and 27th February, the International Conference “The Fight Against Xenophobia in the Era of Disinformation and Artificial Intelligence” in San Jose, Costa Rica. The event sought to create an action plan and an early warning system to combat xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and refugees in Central America.

“We have to think about how to combat xenophobia not only through campaigns, but through the transmission of information peer to peer,” said Leonard Doyle, Director of the IOM's Media and Communication Division. "This event comes at a crucial moment, because migration will only continue to grow.”

The event included work sessions, discussion panels and a high-level panel. Among the participants were Adama Dieng, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide for the UN; Esther Kuisch-Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Office in Costa Rica; Carlos Andrés Torres Salas, Vice Minister of Government and Police of Costa Rica; Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean; Marie-Helene Verney, Director of External Relations for the Americas, UNHCR; and Sarai Arias, human rights activist.

“We hope that the event will serve as a starting point to achieve a more articulated and constant effort among the different actors that fight against xenophobia, and so that, in a general way, people have truthful and current information to raise their voice against discrimination and xenophobia,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. “Currently, migrants, especially those with irregular status, face complex problems during their journey. It is imperative that xenophobia is not another burden on their paths,” he concluded.

César Doroteo and Ricardo Peralta, Mexican influencers of the YouTube channel Pepe & Teo, who participated in the panel on the role of the media in the fight against misinformation took the opportunity to highlight the issue of how we inform ourselves: “To the users of media outlets we tell you: look for more transparent media, those that show how they make their content. Remember that what comes to you in your social networks is an information bubble, and not necessarily the truth.”

The conference was organized in coordination with DW Akademie, the Office of Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect and the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Costa Rica.

The event was broadcast live and is available in both Spanish and English.

For more information please contact Jorge Gallo, IOM Regional Communication Officer for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, email: