The Mediterranean Missing Project

The Mediterranean Missing Project is a one year research project, which ran until September 2016. It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (ESRC). Resulting from collaboration between the University of York, City University London, and the International Organization for Migration, the project is one of the first efforts to systematically collect data and comparatively explore current responses to migrant bodies in the Mediterranean, and the impacts of a missing person on families left behind.

In 2015, over 3,770 refugees and migrants are known to have died at sea while trying to reach Europe. The majority of these people are not identified, and in many cases bodies are never found. In each case, a family is left in a state of ambiguous loss, unable to fully grieve for their loved one. Despite the magnitude of unidentified deaths and the suffering of families, states have done little to address this humanitarian imperative. This project aims to shed light on the policy vacuum at EU and national levels, through investigating the policies and practices in Italy and Greece regarding the investigation, identification, burial and repatriation of migrant bodies. Research with families of missing migrants from a range of contexts aims to better understand the impacts of missing persons on families, both psychologically as well as economically and socially.

Outputs include a workshop held in Berlin in June 2016 and the following publications, which are available to read here:

– Italy and Greece country reports, including summary versions.

– A report of a study on the impact on families of having a relative missing in migration.

– A legal briefing summarising the obligations under International Human Rights Law of states concerning the migrant bodies and the missing.

– Studies of the legal frameworks relevant to missing migrants and the management of the bodies of migrants in Italy and Greece.

For more information please visit the project website