Dying to reach Europe?


Dying to reach Europe?

Written by: Harmit Athwal


To mark refugee week, UNITED for Intercultural Action, the pan-European network against racism, has revealed details of 6,300 deaths of migrants and refugees at Europe’s borders.

UNITED has monitored refugee deaths since 1993. With the help of their network of more than 560 anti-racist and refugee rights organisations they have documented the six-thousand deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, and in minefields between Turkey and Greece. Numerous refugees have also suffocated while being transported in trucks, or committed suicide while detained in Europe’s detention centres.

The list makes extremely depressing reading. Those whose names and identities are established are few and far between. The vast majority of those listed remain unidentified – just numbers. There are those who simply disappear into the seas of Europe – presumed drowned trying to reach the coast or thrown overboard by unscrupulous smugglers. For example, sixteen Moroccans died, presumed drowned near the Algerian coast on their way to Spain in April. In December, while most of us were thinking of how to enjoy Christmas, the bodies of thirteen Sub-Saharan Africans were found in a boat drifting off Fuerteventura.

UNITED’s spokesperson told IRR news: ‘Dense Borders are a political illusion. Europe can no longer ignore the circle of desperation around its borders. The more Europe tries to keep migrants out of its societies and economies, the higher the risks refugees will take to come to Europe.’

Related links

Full text of the UNITED list of deaths of migrants and refugees at Europe’s borders (pdf file, 565kb)

UNITED for Intercultural Action


To read UNITED's list click on the link above.


The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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