Dead and missing at sea Information guide for families and their supporters

A publication by Boats4People

Boats 4 People published on the 12th of May 2017, during the Sabir Festival, an information guide for the families of migrants –and their supporters- who died or went missing while crossing Central Mediterranean sea on their way to Italy.

This guide is now available in Italian, English, French, Arabic and Tigrinya (see also attachments below).

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2014, more than 12 000 people lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea during their migration to Europe, 5 022 of them in the year 2016 alone. Most of them remain “non-identified”.

These intolerable tragedies are the consequence of European migration policies, which, in their attempts to prevent migrants from coming to Europe, force them to take increasingly dangerous routes.

Behind every person lost at sea there is a mother, a father, a spouse, some children, cousins, friends, trapped in waiting, anxiety and hope.

The absence of systematic and harmonized process prevent the families from getting information about what happened to their missing loved ones. Whereas when a disaster affects their own nationals (natural disaster, attack, plane crash, boat accident, and so on…) European countries are fully able to display any sophisticated device to conduct investigation in order to clarify the circumstances under which the tragedy occurred, and to try by all means to find and identify the victims’ bodies. Process are implemented to guide the States and systematize data archiving. Crisis units are proposed to support and inform the victims’ families. Nothing of this sort exists for migrating people.

Italy is the first European country to have taken initiatives and developed specific protocols even though these protocols only concern some iconic shipwrecks.

The document produced by Boat 4 People about the Italian process to establish the identity of dead or missing, is the result of nearly 2 years of gathering information from institutional bodies, associations, activists, researchers and practitioners. It has been designed as an implementation step-by-step guide for the families and their supporters, given the indifference of the European countries about migrants’ fate. For these countries, dead migrants are only entitled to being counted and reported for statistics purposes.


B4P steering committee members : Arci (Associazione ricreativa culturale italiana), AME (Association malienne des expulsés), Aracem (Association des refoulés d’Afrique centrale au Mali), Fasti (Fédération des associations de solidarité avec tou-te-s les immigré-e-s, France), FIDH (Fédération internationale des droits de l’homme), FTDES (Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux), Gadem (Groupe antiraciste d’accompagnement et de défense des étrangers et migrants, Morocco), Gisti (Groupe d’information et de soutien aux immigré·e·s, France), La Cimade (France), LTDH (Ligue tunisienne des droits de l’homme), Migreurop (Euro african network)