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09 Dec 2021

Support Needed for Families of Missing Migrants: Evidence from IOM’s “Assessing the Needs of Families Searching for Relatives Lost in the Central and Western Mediterranean” Project

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This policy briefing identifies 10 recommendations that States, regional organizations, intergovernmental organizations and civil society can take to help meet their obligations towards families of missing migrants – to support them in their search for loved ones and as they cope with the impacts of loss. The recommendations are informed by a research project carried out by a team of researchers coordinated by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, based at the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), and are in line with the actions listed under Objective 8 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

  • Summary
  • About the project
  • Policy issue
  • Guiding principles and recommendations for a comprehensive response to families of missing migrants
  • For all actors 
    • 1. All efforts to assist families of missing migrants should situate families at the centre of all searches and related initiatives, including recognizing and meaningfully considering their expertise and knowledge
    • 2. Any intervention designed to address the needs of the families of missing migrants must account for the multiple ways that people’s identities shape search processes and access to rights and support services
  • For States
    • 3. States must meaningfully work to uphold international obligations and commitments towards missing migrants and their families under international human rights law, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Compact for Migration
    • 4. States should adapt existing legal, policy and institutional frameworks to address issues specific to missing migrants
    • 5. States should develop a road map to address cases of missing migrants
    • 6. Specialized mechanisms should be established to allow families (and advocates acting on their behalf ) to safely file a report concerning the disappearance of their loved ones
  • For States and regional actors
    • 7. Establish mechanisms enabling transnational coordination on missing-migrant cases
    • 8. Fund civil society actors that support families in their searches 
  • For intergovernmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations 
    • 9. All intergovernmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations that interact with people on the move should have a road map with guidance on how to assist families of missing migrants and survivors of incidents in which other migrants have gone missing or died
    • 10. Provide training for relevant government authorities, including law enforcement, about the needs and rights of families of missing migrants
  • Conclusion