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Central Mediterranean Route Thematic Report Series - Analysis of Best Practices in the Identification of Missing Migrants: Implications for the Central Mediterranean | Issue No. 2

Identification of missing migrants

Over the last decade, crossing the Central Mediterranean has become one of the deadliest journeys in the world for migrants, with at least 15,000 migrants having died on this route since 2014. The vast majority of bodies found are not identified, with net identification rates of migrant bodies around 22 per cent between 1990 and 2013. For every migrant body retrieved from the sea or found on the shore and not identified, there is a family living with ambiguity, not knowing if their missing loved one is dead or alive.

This report focuses on the challenges faced in identifying dead migrants on the Central Mediterranean route and informing the families of the deceased. The vast majority of identifications in Italy and other States on this route lack reliability and cohesiveness; in particular, systematic post- and ante-mortem data collection and management is poor. The report concludes with recommendations for European States and regional institutions, as well as for civil society and international agencies.



International Organization for Migration (IOM)


IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC)

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Regional group:

Central Mediterranean