Publication Year
Europe and Central Asia
Thematic Area
Mechanisms / The Search Process
Identification / Management of the Dead / Migration / Prevention / Recovery of remains / Excavation / Exhumation / Rescue at sea
Open access

The initial Counting the Dead report, published in 2022, mapped burial sites of migrants recovered in Greece, Italy, and Spain between 2014 and 2019. It also analysed the medico-legal systems in these countries and formulated recommendations to improve them. This new report gives an update for 2020-2021, including now Malta.

According to IOM’s missing migrants project, 5’500 migrants have died/disappeared along the maritime routes to the EU in 2020-2021. ICRC experts have counted 380 bodies, which means that only 7% of those recorded missing by IOM have been recovered in Southern Europe. In certain countries, identification rates are even low. These stark figures reflect both the tragic loss of life at sea, and the need to improve identifications to relieve countless families in agony, not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

The Counting the Dead 2020-2021 report also analyses the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the management of the deceased, as well as trends on the migratory routes, notably the rise of ghost shipwrecks. It reiterates many of the initial report’s recommendations to the EU and its Member States, notably on the need to strengthen efforts to prevent disappearances, search for missing migrants, identify the human remains, and inform families.