Families of Missing Migrants: Their Search for Answers, the Impacts of Loss and Recommendations for Improved Support

Country Report: United Kingdom

Number of Pages: 
72
ISBN: 
978-92-9068-960-7
E-ISBN: 
978-92-9068-959-1
Year: 
2021
Electronic copy only
Description: 

This report explores the challenges and needs of families living in the United Kingdom who have relatives who went missing or died in the course of international migration, and provides a policy-oriented overview of laws, advocacies, initiatives and support services applicable to the issue of missing migrants in the country. It is based on qualitative interviews with stakeholders and families, as well as participant observation and desk research, which were conducted in spring 2020, and is part of a project carried out by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre that aims to raise awareness of the challenges and coping mechanisms of people with missing migrant relatives in the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Spain and Zimbabwe. The research demonstrates that the experiences of families of missing migrants in the United Kingdom are shaped by multiple structural constraints, ranging from the circumstances in their countries of origin, the challenges in the places where their loved ones went missing, to their encounters with institutions within the United Kingdom. However, they are also the result of complex interactions shaped by ethnicity, class and gender. Combined, these factors often hinder well-intentioned efforts by families and institutions to get answers concerning the disappearances. Furthermore, the policy and legal frameworks that deal with incidents of missing persons are not inclusive enough to adequately support the specific needs of families of missing migrants. The report concludes with 10 recommendations aimed at government and other relevant actors to help develop targeted responses to the needs of the families of missing migrants in the specific context of the United Kingdom.

Table of contents: 
  • Acknowledgements
  • Figure and text boxes
  • Abbreviations
  • Assessment of the needs of families searching for relatives lost
  • in the Central and Western Mediterranean
  • Executive summary
  • Chapter 1 – Migration journeys to the United Kingdom
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. The United Kingdom’s migration context 
    • 3. What is known about people who go missing or die on migration journeys towards the United Kingdom? 
    • References 
  • Chapter 2 – Families in the United Kingdom with missing relatives in the context of migration
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Research methodology 
    • 3. Research findings
      • 3.1. “If it wasn’t for the war, this wouldn’t have happened”: Contextualizing loss and separation 
      • 3.2. “Basically, you rely on friends”: Experiences of searching for missing migrants
        • 3.2.1. Migrant, asylum seeker and refugee organizations as sources of support
        • 3.2.2. Institutional forms of support
        • 3.2.3. “It was easier to spread the news that way”: Social and traditional media in the search for missing migrants
      • 3.3. Obstacles in the search for lost or missing migrants
        • 3.3.1. “You can’t really be searching because you have to hide yourself”: Challenges posed by the United Kingdom’s immigration system
        • 3.3.2. “If you are struggling to survive yourself, you can’t find someone”: Challenges posed by financial precarity 
        • 3.3.3. “Where do I even go [to] ask questions?”: Challenges posed by the lack of a search body or mechanism and a lack of awareness of existing courses of action
      • 3.4. Living with loss: Psychological impacts and harmful coping mechanisms
    • 4. Conclusion: What do families want?
    • References
  • Chapter 3 – The United Kingdom’s approach to missing migrants: Systems, policies, and frameworks 
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Methodology
    • 3. Findings: National legal frameworks relevant to missing migrants and their applicability
      • 3.1. Deceased migrants: Policy and legal frameworks
      • 3.2. Missing migrants: Policy and legal frameworks in context
      • 3.3. Multilateral legal and policy frameworks
    • 4. Findings: Relevant actors – Their role and context
      • 4.1. The United Kingdom’s Government and Parliament 
      • 4.2. Other State institutions at the national, regional and local levels
      • 4.3. The role of civil society 
        • 4.3.1. The role of the British Red Cross
        • 4.3.2. The role of international organizations and other actors
        • 4.3.3. The role of the families of missing migrants and their communities
    • 5. Conclusions
    • References 
  • Chapter 4 – Recommendations to improve the situation of families of missing migrants in the United Kingdom