Working with the List of Deaths


List of Deaths
(pdf )


What is the List of Deaths?
How is it used?
How is it compiled?
Research and Data Collection


What is the List of Deaths?

Since 1993, UNITED has been monitoring the human impact of the policies building so called “Fortress Europe”; the List of Deaths is the product of our ongoing research. It lists those refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants who have died through their attempts to enter Europe, and as a result of European immigration policies including deportation procedures, detention conditions and the inadequacies of asylum application processes.

How is it used?

The cases that the List gathers together have already been reported elsewhere i.e. in other publications; whilst it does not pretend to have a strong scientific basis, its strengths lie in its ability to be used in projects by researchers, students, journalists and artists working in the field. The document is made extremely user-friendly and flexible so that its data can be used creatively, as a lobbying tool and as a starting point for further research. We believe that by working together in this way, we can reach a wider audience and draw attention to the cruel and inhumane consequences of Europe’s exclusion policy.

How is it compiled?

The List includes cases of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants that fit at least one of the following criteria:

  • the death has occurred during a border-crossing journey from outside Europe into Europe, with immigration, asylum (protection from persecution, war or violence) or economic relocation as the primary aim of the journey;
  • the death has occurred within a detention centre, a refugee centre or shelter, or any other property designated to host migrants, refugees and asylum seekers by public authorities;
  • the death has occurred on the public soil of any European country during a police raid, a border control activity, or a public investigation aimed at penalising the presence of residents, who are undocumented;
  • the death has occurred during deportation procedures;
  • the death has occurred outside Europe after deportation and it is directly linked to the risk that pushed that individual to flee his/her country in the first place;
  • the death has occurred as a direct consequence of a racist attack that has been perpetrated by a public officer, directly encouraged by him/her, or purposely ignored by him/her;
  • the death has occurred during a human trafficking action;
  • the death has occurred as a consequence of neglect or ignored pleas for help or medical/psychological/security assistance by undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum seekers by any public officer or medical staff;
  • the death has occurred as a direct consequence of a serious episode of institutional racism perpetrated against an undocumented migrant, refugee or asylum seeker. For institutional racism we generally refer to the 1999 McPherson Act (GB): ‘The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in process, attitudes and behaviour which amount in discrimination thought unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people’;
  • Due to the externalisation of European border controls (such as Italy-Libya bilateral agreement 2005), a death that occurred in any of the above situations, but in a non-European country that acts directly on behalf of European immigration policies in accordance with such an agreement.

Research and Data Collection

The List of Deaths is a record of reported fatalities, there are potentially many more that remain undocumented and experts agree it is impossible to know the real death count.  To produce the list, UNITED conducts research using information from organisations working in the field of refugee and migrants’ protection in Europe as our source. These include NGOs, research institutes, journalists, government organisations, artists and film-makers among others. A list of sources is included at the end of the List of Deaths.

Our research material consists of news sources, government reports, shadow reports, newsletters, news bulletins and documents produced by NGOs, blogs, testimonies and artwork, each document has been archived in the UNITED office. Furthermore, we conduct constant media monitoring and cooperate with network organisations in exchanging information.


Economic Migrant
An economic migrant chooses to leave their home country to seek better employment opportunities, financial prospects or living conditions elsewhere. Should he or she elect to return home, they would be able to have a safe life there and continue to receive the protection of their government.

A person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”
(Geneva Convention, 1951)

Asylum seeker
The term ‘refugee’ is widely used to describe displaced people all over the world. In a legal context, a person is a refugee only when the Home Office has accepted their asylum claim and gave them a refugee status according to the laws of receiving country. While a person is waiting for a decision on their claim, she/he is called an asylum seeker.

Geneva Convention
The common term given to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which came into force in 1951 and amended in 1967 by New York Protocol. It defines who a refugee is (and is not) and the rights to which they are entitled. Countries that have ratified the Geneva Convention are bound by international law to protect refugees on their territory.
It is different to The Geneva Conventions, which are a series of international treaties.

Dublin Regulation
A feature of EU law determining which member state is responsible for an asylum claim, stating that asylum seekers must submit their application in the first EU country in which they arrive. Asylum seekers can be returned to that original EU member state if found in another.
It is an amendment of the Dublin Convention, signed in 1990 and its original name is still commonly used.

Undocumented migrant
Undocumented (or irregular) migrants are those without a residence permit authorising their stay in the country of destination. They may have been unsuccessful in the asylum process, overstayed their visa or entered irregularly. UNITED, as many Network organisations does not use the term “illegal”, commonly used by media or in political discourse as it criminalises migration.

Undocumented minor
Undocumented children who have travelled unaccompanied, who have migrated with or to join close family, or who are born in the host country to undocumented parents.

Detention centre/ Removal centre
A secure centre used to house migrants or asylum seekers suspected of undocumented or unauthorised entry and visa violations. Individuals should only be detained whilst immigration authorities determine their status and whist awaiting deportation.

Identification centre
A facility where migrants are received and identified upon arrival in the country where they will be applying for asylum. They are often held here whilst their claim is submitted and processed.

The forced removal of migrants and failed asylum seekers when state authorities conclude that they do not meet the requirements to remain in the country. Sometimes called forced return, forced repatriation and expulsion.

Voluntary return
As above, but repatriation is considered as done with the migrant’s free will. Often in these cases, they are presented with incentives to leave, or are subject to conditions that either offer safety in their country of return, or discourage them from remaining. Therefore, the voluntary aspect is often questioned.

In international law, this is a process by which one state, upon the request of another, effects the return of a person for trial for a crime punishable by the laws of the requesting state and committed outside the state of refuge. Extraditable persons include those charged with a crime but not yet tried, those tried and convicted who have escaped custody, and those convicted in absentia. The request distinguishes extradition from other measures—such as expulsion, deportation or banishment – which also result in the forcible removal of undesirable persons. There are certain restrictions to extradition – refugee status, possibility of tortures and death penalty in requesting country.