Based on years of experience working with refugee situation and particular two years of consistent work on the subject of missing migrants, this project aims to enlarge the scope of methodology significantly and improve notably the quality of the results within this sector.
On a wider scale, only IOM (International Organization for Migration) carries the program Lost in Migration that records the deaths of the people on the move and Missing Children Europe initiative which focus on the children that has gone missing after having reached the country where they have asked for asylum or have been registered by the authorities. Due to the limitation of the access to the communities and specificity of the methodology IOM programme excludes account of deaths that occur within camps, detention facilities, or during stay at the country of destination, while Missing Children Europe include only those cases where unaccompanied minors had already been registered by authorities The program do not focus on those that had disappeared during the journey.
First, it collects data about the people went missing on the level of communities both in countries of origin and in the countries of destination/transit. Thus, during the last two years, trough the network of volunteers we have already collected the data on 3500 cases of the persons who have left Khartoum (Sudan) for Europe but have disappeared since. Similarly, on 78 cases we have informed the families in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia about the disappeared person who has died, have been hospitalized, have been arrested during or after the journey to Europe. The cases where families had no information about the missing persons or had no access to communication because of the residency in the remote and conflict-ridden areas.
So far the collection of the information is conducted through the network of volunteers in the communities. In a country of origin, the information is collected among the different ethnic groups in Sudan particularly in Khartoum, South Kordufan, and Blue Nile, who register the cases of the missing persons (including photograph, DOP, info on bodily marks, dates and place of departure, dates and places of last contact). The extensive work is being done through the local NGO which primary aims are not a collection of data, but humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, given the difficult political situations collaboration with the NGO which have long-standing relationships within communities, proves very productive. Currently, we have been collaborating with the Sudan based NGO Practical Action.
The work in the country of destination/transit is based in Athens, Greece, which serves as one of the hubs/crossroads of the journey to Europe. Here the network of volunteers is reporting on the persons that have died or went missing during the journey as well as collecting information of those who have been hospitalized, arrested, or died while living or trying to leave Greece, and who had no means to report it to the relatives. It is important to stress, that authorities cannot inform the relatives or any close persons, as most of the migrants due to the migration policies for particular countries are registered under fake names and fake countries of origin. In this cases, families have no account of what has happened to the missing person. Within the migrant communities in Athens, we have already registered more than 5000 persons from Sub Saharan Africa that with the information that provides the info for the contacts of their relatives.
While so far collection of the database has been concentrated on two hubs of migration one at the country of origin in Khartoum and country of destination in Athens. The information in the database already indicates other places of transit crucial for the collection of the information on the disappeared. This includes border crossing areas and transit stopovers where the death or disappearance happens most usually unreported. This includes Sinai peninsular, Sudan and Libya/Chad/Egypt border, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, and Izmir. These places contain the number of reported deaths, places of unmarked graves, and communities that could provide information about the fate of the disappeared.
This project, based on the information collected at the community level both at the country of origin and at the country of destination, aims to create the database which will enable the relatives of the migrants to find out the fate of the missing ones.