MONITORING THE RIGHT TO LIFE 2023

The data presented below results from exhaustive monitoring carried out 365 days a year by our Collective within our Human Rights Observatory framework. Migrant communities, rescue services, family networks, and human rights defenders on the ground collect, compare, and systematize this necessary information.


In 2023, 18 people died every day on the different migratory routes to Spain. The Monitoring theRight to Life report, which collects data on the victims of a necropolitics that is increasingly cruel and aggressive towards human rights, has found that 2023 was the deadliest year on record. As many as 6,618 people lost their lives on the Euro-African Western Border, including 363 women and 384 children.

The Canary route, across the Atlantic Ocean, is once again the deadliest migratory region in the world. The increase in departures from the furthest places along the route, such as Mauritania, Senegal, and Gambia should be highlighted this year. Specifically, from June onwards, the increase in the number of canoes from Senegal shows the population’s exodus caused by the country’s great social and political instability.

The report analyses in detail the different migration routes in the Atlantic from these countries, not forgetting the outflows of people in the coastal areas between Agadir and Dakhla. Our report has also continued to pay attention to the victims in the Mediterranean area, including the Algerian route, Alboran and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Our Human Rights Observatory, through its research team, has analysed the data presented in this report to define the causes of the increase in deaths. Among the most serious causes are the prioritization of border control over the duty to rescue, the failure to activate search and rescue resources with the necessary urgency,  increase in ineffective passive search methods, the impact of the externalization of borders with third countries and the reduction of resources for the protection of life.

The figures in this report could not be more alarming, and the increasingly lethal migration control practices that we see at the Western Euro-African Border are also observed at other European borders. These data are, therefore, intended to inform truth processes driven by migrant communities and victims’ families in the face of necropolitics. This report and those that preceded it are also steps towards the recovery of the memory of the victims and should be used in advocacy actions that fight against the politics of death at the borders.

Download the report in English here. Go to the bottom of the page for the French and Spanish versions.

Right to Life – first semester 2023

On average, 5 people lost their lives every day in the first half of 1023 on the Euro-African Western Border.

Madrid, 6 July 2023

Ca-minando Fronteras presents today, Thursday 6 July 2023, the figures of the border monitoring carried out from January to June this year. During this first half of the year, 951 victims have been recorded on the Euro-African Western Border. Direct data from primary sources have been cross-checked with official sources, migrant communities and social organisations on the ground with whom Ca-minando Fronteras is in permanent contact. Within the framework of our Observatory on Human Rights at the Borders, the data documented are as follows:

  • 19 boats missing with all the people on board.
  • 112 women and 49 children have lost their lives at sea in the first six months of 2023.
  • The victims came from up to 14 different countries, including Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Comoros, Sudan and Syria.

Again , the access routes to Spain were divided into four different routes: i) the Canary Islands route, ii) the Alboran Sea route, iii) the Algerian route and iv) the Strait of Gibraltar route. Once again, the Canary Islands route recorded the highest number of victims, with up to 778 people losing their lives in the 28 tragedies that have occurred on this route. Meanwhile, on the Alboran route, the 2 tragedies recorded in this period bring the number of victims to 21. As for the Algerian route, 8 tragedies are known to have occurred, resulting in 102 victims. Finally, on the Strait of Gibraltar, 11 tragedies left 50 people dead.

In a more detailed look at the course of the semester , the months of February and June concentrate the most casualties, with 237 and 332 people respectively.

Among the causes that have led to tragedies and victims in this period are the failure to provide assistance at sea, the delay in activating search and rescue resources, the inadequacy of resources when they are activated, bad practices in rescues operations and the lack of coordination between the Spanish and Moroccan States, whose relations are determined by geopolitical interests linked to migratory control rather than the defence of the right to life.

Cases of human rights violations against victims and their families have also been documented. Surviving victims have suffered imprisonment, forced displacement, physical attacks and detention under the law on foreigners. The missing victims have been denied the right to be searched for. Victims whose bodies were found suffered from burial in mass graves, lack of identification protocols with guarantees, and absence of dignified burials respecting the beliefs they practised in life.

“The politics of death have been in place on the border for a long time. But we have also detected an increase in impunity in the face of rising death rates, which leaves victims and their families without access to reparation and justice. These figures are part of a process of reconstruction of memory: we count them so as not to forget them, we published them for their families and communities, as a tool to continue fighting for borders to stop being spaces of no rights”, Helena Maleno Garzón, coordinator of Ca-minando Fronteras.

“We were waiting for hours, begging , we called everywhere, Salvamento, the Moroccan Navy, we sent positions, but no one came. The sea is very big and very scary. We prayed all the time to try to calm down, but it’s not easy. The children were crying a lot, we had no water… I saw them dying in front of me, they were falling into the sea and when the rescue arrived it was too late. The Moroccans threw us in the desert, I had burns and they got infected, thank God I am alive, we only have God left when everyone wants to kill us”, F. B, a survivor victim of one of the documented shipwrecks.

“We haven’t heard from her for many days. We are very worried, this is very hard, we talked to her every day. Her family back home is very worried. I’m doing everything I can to look for her, to try to find out something and get news of her, but we don’t know how or where to look? And I am the one who has to inform them, and I have nothing to tell them. They still have hope, but I think she is no longer with us. We just want to know” A.J., friend of family members in search.

Download here our Monitoring Right to Life – January-June 2023 in english and, at the bottom of the page, in Spanish and French.

Are you looking for a missing relative or acquaintance on a migratory route? If this is your case, contact us here.

Wall of indifference. The Algerian route in the Western Mediterranean

The report presented below is the result of the research on the Algerian route carried out over the last year by our Collective within the framework of the Human Rights Observatory. Migrants, family networks, community leaders, social organisations and representatives of public administrations have contributed to this account of the migratory route between Algeria and Spain.

The Algerian route is the most unknown migratory route along the Western Euro-African Border. Despite the lack of knowledge of the route that links the coasts of northern Algeria with the Andalusian East and Murcia, the Levante coasts and the Balearic Islands, it is the second deadliest in the last five years (in our monitoring we have counted 1,583 victims between 2018 and 2022) behind the Canary Islands route. In 2022 alone, at least 464 people died in 43 shipwrecks. A wall of water, an invisible wall.

This situation has an impact on increasing impunity for human rights violations in this border area. The globalised system of border control operates here as in so many other places, but it is subject to less public attention and monitoring.

At Ca-minando Fronteras we have researched the particularities of this route, who are the people who make this journey to Europe and what unique obstacles they and their families and loved ones face.

This work is not only about contemporary migratory flows from South to North. The memory of the historical exchange between territories is present, from the reception on the southern shore of the Mediterranean of the Moors expelled from the peninsula in the 17th century to the exile of thousands of people during the Spanish Civil War and post-Civil War. Our fieldwork now allows us to reconstruct a “story of unity between peoples that puts human rights at the centre”.

Download here the report Wall of indifference. The Algerian route in the Western Mediterranean in Spanish. For the Catalan version, go to the bottom of this page.

Are you looking for a family member or acquaintance who has disappeared on a migration route? If so, contact us here.

Report – Victims of the Nador-Melilla border 24/6/2022

The data presented below is the result of accompanying the survivors of the massacre that took place on the Spanish-Moroccan border between Melilla and Nador on 24 June 2022. Migrant communities, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground collected, contrasted and systematised necessary information.

Seven months have passed since the massacre at the border between Nador and Melilla where at least 40 people lost their lives (confirmed by our collective. The survivors’ accounts count up to 77 missing victims, of whom it is not yet known how many could be among the 40 confirmed victims).

A month has passed since the Attorney General’s Office cleared the Spanish Interior Ministry, the Guardia Civil and the agents involved on the day of the tragedy, closing the investigation into the deaths on the understanding that they acted in a regular and proportional manner.

To this day, both Morocco and Spain are blocking the relatives’ attempts to find out the truth, and the denial of the right to search for the disappeared and to identify the bodies found. We are faced with a permanent crime that was not only committed on that day against the people at the fence, but is committed daily against the families in the search for justice. Both the victims and their perpetrators, whose crimes have gone unpunished, know clearly what happened that terrible day at the Melilla-Nador fence.

Este informe parte de la reconstrucción de los hechos realizada por las propias víctimas de la masacre a quienes hemos acompañado desde la tragedia. Los testimonios comienzan con el hostigamiento, la violencia y el despojo que venían sufriendo los días anteriores a la masacre en la valla. El trabajo da cuenta de la crisis humanitaria desatada después, con profundas consecuencias físicas, psicológicas y materiales para los supervivientes, sometidos a deportaciones y a procesamientos judiciales en Marruecos.

Compartimos los testimonios en audio de tres supervivientes de la masacre. Acompañamos sus voces por la justicia, la verdad y la reparación. Los puedes escuchar a continuación.

Download the full report in English here: Slaughter in the Nador-Melilla Border, 24 June 2022, and at the bottom of the page in Spanish, French and Catalan.

¿Estás buscando a un familiar o conocido desaparecido en una ruta migratoria? Si es tu caso, contacta con nosotras aquí.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2022

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

This report presents data on the victims of the necropolitics applied in border control at the western Euro-African border in 2022. The figures have been confirmed by the Human Rights Observatory run by Ca-minando Fronteras. They relate to victims on the Strait of Gibraltar, Alboran Sea and Algerian sea routes in the Western Mediterranean, the Canary Islands route in the Atlantic and the overland routes culminating at the border fences in Ceuta and Melilla.

Our monitoring throughout 2022 points to an increasingly deadly trend on these migration routes in recent years, as we explained in the recent report Victims of the Necrofrontier 2018-2022: For Memory and Justice. In 2022 alone, Ca-minando Fronteras confirmed the deaths of 2,390 people on migration routes heading for Europe.

The route linking the western coast of North Africa and the Canary Islands once again emerged as the deadliest, with 1,784 victims. In the report, we compile an extensive list of consequences of migration policies that hinder, obstruct or prevent rescue operations to save migrant people.

In 2022, we witnessed a flagrant example of transnational rights violations on the land border between Melilla and Nador, where 40 people lost their lives on 24 June in an incident in which Spanish and Moroccan police officers employed violent deterrent tactics, including real bullets.

The report focuses on the invisible nature of the Algerian migration route running from northern Algeria to the Levante coast of Spain and the Balearic Islands. The long distances involved, the failure of migrants’ friends and relatives to raise the alarm and the authorities’ failure to render assistance make it impossible to reconstruct the tragedies taking place in this region or to count the total number of victims on this route.

In the report, we reiterate that the vast majority of victims’ bodies on sea routes (91.42%) disappear without a trace. In these circumstances, families and communities experience ambiguous loss, which has multiple legal and psychological repercussions.

Download the Monitoring the Right to Life 2022 report in English here or scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it in Spanish, French and Catalan.
Are you looking for a relative or a friend who has gone missing while attempting to migrate? If so, you can contact us here.

Victims of the necrofrontier 2018-2022. For memory and justice

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

This data collection work forms part of our Observatory of Human Rights on the Western Euro-African Border. We founded the observatory in 2014 after receiving alerts from vessels in distress on different migration routes from Africa to the Spanish State over a seven-year period. The observatory began to operate in 2015.

Although we publish annual reports on the data collected by the Observatory, this report updates the number of victims on the western Euro-African border from 2018 to 2022 (up to 30 November 2022) and presents a diachronic analysis that offers insight into the impact of necropolitics over a longer period of time.

Who are we investigating for and why? The knowledge that we produce is intended for use within migrant communities by family members looking for their missing loved ones. Our priority is to develop a plan to defend life at the border in partnership with people on the move and victims’ families. The numbers and stories presented in this report play an essential role as we work towards greater respect for human rights. Memory must remain with us, lighting the way to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.

Download the report here, or scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it in Spanish, French and Catalan.

Monitoring the Right to Life – First Semester 2022

The data presented below is the result of exhaustive monitoring carried out 365 days a year by our Collective within the framework of our Border Rights Observatory. Migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground collect, compare and systematise necessary information.

Loss of life on migration routes has become normalised in the discourse of migration control, resulting in a rise in the number of victims and the use of increasingly deadly repression against migrant communities.

During the first half of 2022 covered in this report, there has been an escalation in the militarisation of migration control, with measures that represent a systematic attack on migrants’ human rights.

This situation has been exacerbated by the belligerent discourse surrounding the war in Ukraine and the rearmament envisaged by Europe and NATO is also likely to affect border control management. In the Spanish State’s political narrative, people on the move have been positioned as one of various threats from the Global South and subjected to a de facto military response.

This report presents data on the victims of the necropolitics applied to border control at the western Euro-African border during the first six months of 2022. These data have been confirmed by the Human Rights Observatory run by the Ca-minando Fronteras collective.

In the report, we also considered it important to analyse the tools used to exert systematic violence against migrant communities. We have attempted to lay the foundations for an analysis of the situation at the border over the last six months that will focus on human rights and counter belligerent narratives and warmongering fervour. It is crucial that we analyse the violence suffered by migrant communities on a daily basis, the sources of this violence and its impact on migrants’ lives, many of which are cut short after sustained rights violations.

This report was drawn up using data from the Observatory of the Western Euro-African Border founded by the Ca-minando Fronteras collective in 2015, which records victims migrating on Mediterranean (Strait of Gibraltar, Alborán Sea, Algeria) and Atlantic (Canary Islands) sea routes, as well as on overland routes via the border fences in Ceuta and Melilla.

The numbers and stories presented in this report play an essential role as we strive for greater respect for the rights of victims and their families. Their memory must remain with us, lighting the way to truth, justice and reparation and ensuring that these deaths cease once and for all.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2021

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

Download the full report here: Monitoring ‘Right To Life – 2021’

Descarga el informe completo aquí: Informe del Monitoreo DALV – 2021 (Spanish version)

4,404 people died in 2021 as they attempted to migrate to the Spanish State, making it the worst year on record. The aim of our monitoring work is to provide information to support migrant communities and victims’ families in their quest to find the truth of what is happening at the western Euro-African border. Our data represent a necessary step on the path to reparation for the dead and missing, rendering them more visible. It is also intended for use in advocacy to lobby for policies of justice and non-repetition at the border.

By systematising the information on border victims that we have been compiling since 2016, we are able to obtain a diachronic overview of the dynamics of the necropolitics applied in border regions.

Collecting data on the deaths of people on the move is a complex process as they travel via irregular channels where their rights are not recognised, enabling states to deny their very existence. On the western Euro-African border, the vast majority of deaths occur at sea and most of the bodies are lost without a trace. Behind these numbers is a desire to ensure respect for the victims’ memory in response to the ignominy of their assailants.

Despite the difficulties involved in documenting the numbers of dead and missing people on migration routes to Spain, the meticulous work of our Human Rights Observatory has allowed us to exhaustively verify the figures that are presented in this report. All data are from primary sources and are processed in our databases. We then analyse the data and return the results to migrant communities, victims’ families and wider society so that they can be used to develop actions to defend life against necropolitics.

Despite the difficulties involved in documenting the numbers of dead and missing people on migration routes to Spain, the meticulous work of our Human Rights Observatory has allowed us to exhaustively verify the figures that are presented in this report. All data are from primary sources and are processed in our databases. We then analyse the data and return the results to migrant communities, victims’ families and wider society so that they can be used to develop actions to defend life against necropolitics.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2020

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

2020 was one of the most tragic, deadly years on the migration routes leading to the Spanish State via the western Euro-African border.

The prioritisation of migration control over the right to life was evident in the dismantling of various rescue services and the lack of coordination between them, rendering them increasingly unreliable. We also observed a lax response to calls for assistance, even when the vessels supplied their precise position. In some cases, delays in the response from rescue services led to entirely avoidable deaths.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people into exile to escape poverty and was a major factor in the mobility of people at the western Euro-African border in 2020. Meanwhile, the deterrence policies implemented by states, which contribute to increased revenues for the arms companies investing in migration control, led to the emergence of more dangerous routes with high mortality rates. For months, we warned of the impact on the right to life of the reactivation of the Algerian route in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands route in the Atlantic:

A) Algerian route: Large numbers of young people were driven out of the country by the wave of political persecution targeting members of the pro-democracy revolution and the high levels of poverty caused by the pandemic. The Algerian route is longer and more dangerous. Almería is the nearest destination on the route, but the Balearic Islands, Murcia and Cartagena pose far greater dangers due to the length of the journey. Usually, people call for help as they near the coast if their lives are in danger but the majority neglect to do so for fear of being returned to their countries of origin. As for the role of the Spanish State, search and rescue services are rarely mobilised. In the best-case scenario, the boats are intercepted by the Civil Guard, whose protocol focuses more on migration control than on saving lives at sea. At Ca-minando Fronteras, we have reconstructed the tragedies on this route using accounts from survivors and families in search of missing people.

B) Canary Islands route: The Canary Islands route departs from several different countries (Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania and Gambia), which makes it even more difficult to coordinate efforts to defend life between them. Even when this coordination was only bilateral, it already proved to be lacking. Regardless of the departure point, journeys on this route are extremely long and many boats go missing in the middle of the ocean. We have observed larger numbers of people departing from Mauritania, including many Malians following the coup d’état in Mali. In Senegal, young people’s calls for greater democracy and the decimation of their livelihoods by European fishing agreements drive them to an almost certain death on this migration route.

The criminalisation and persecution of people on the move have a major impact on mortality rates. Even their family members are criminalised, prompting them to delay reporting their loved ones missing and making it hard to launch an effective search operation. Senegal set a precedent when a father was imprisoned after his son died while attempting to migrate on a wooden boat. Families are stigmatised and blamed in migrants’ countries of origin, transit and destination. In the course of our work, we have received hundreds of complaints from family members who have been criminalised when visiting Spanish police stations to report someone missing at sea; in some cases, they were even prevented from exercising their right to make a report.

Our data are not perfect but they have been confirmed by fieldwork with migrant communities and families searching for their loved ones.

Despite the lack of transparency on these routes, we have been able to document numbers of dead and missing people via our Defending the Right to Life at Sea hotline and searches launched by numerous family members who have lost their loved ones at the borders and continue to demand the truth about what happened to them no matter what struggles they face.

This system of migration control, which only benefits the arms sector and criminal organisations, must be challenged in order to defend the right to life. At Ca-minando Fronteras, we call for:

  • Improved coordination between search and rescue services and more material and human resources to defend human rights.
  • Greater awareness among the actors involved in rescue missions, reception operations and identification of missing people.
  • An end to the criminalisation of migrant self-organisation, which offers ways to reduce mortality rates.
  • An end to the criminalisation of families seeking to protect the lives of their loved ones. Missing people have the right to be searched for and the dead are entitled to be identified, have their families informed and be given a decent burial.
  • Recognition of border victims by states and introduction of channels to supply families with information.

The struggles of people on the move are aimed at defending life against the perverse interests of states.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2019

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

Of the 893 victims documented by Ca-minando Fronteras, 749 went missing at sea and only 144 bodies were salvaged: based on these figures, 80% of those who died were never found. The majority of the victims were travelling on 12 vessels that disappeared at sea over the course of the year without a trace of the people on board.

The victims who were identified had been travelling on 45 different boats that were shipwrecked in 2019: 15 on the Alboran Sea route, 16 on the Strait of Gibraltar route, 11 on the Canary Islands route and three on the Algerian route. The Canary Islands route proved to be the deadliest, with 365 deaths and disappearances, followed by the Alboran Sea route with 347, the Strait of Gibraltar route with 146 and the Algerian route with at least 35 victims.

People from 19 different countries all over the world lost their lives trying to reach the Spanish coast in 2019.From India to Angola, Morocco to Yemen, this is an international tragedy. As well as these countries, there were also victims from Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and Ivory Coast.

Women accounted for 17.13% of the total number of victims in 2019 (153 deaths), while 83 children also lost their lives. Although the Spanish Ministry of Interior claimed to have reduced the mortality rate, data from Ca-minando Fronteras confirms that the number of deaths rose compared to 2018. Migration policies based on militarising the border and dismantling the search and rescue services reduced arrivals of migrant people by 50.07% but led to higher rates of death in the region.

Women accounted for 17.13% of the total number of victims in 2019 (153 deaths), while 83 children also lost their lives. Although the Spanish Ministry of Interior claimed to have reduced the mortality rate, data from Ca-minando Fronteras confirms that the number of deaths rose compared to 2018. Migration policies based on militarising the border and dismantling the search and rescue services reduced arrivals of migrant people by 50.07% but led to higher rates of death in the region.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2018

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

In 2018, we detected a total of 843 victims on the western Euro-African border. The Alboran Sea was by far the deadliest route (722 victims), followed by the Strait of Gibraltar (113). There were fewer deaths and disappearances on the Canary Islands route and at the border fence in Melilla, with 6 and 2 victims respectively.

The number of missing people was 648, while 195 people’s bodies were found. They lost their lives in a total of 61 different shipwrecks: one on the Canary Islands route, 21 on the Strait of Gibraltar route and 40 on the Alboran Sea route.

Twelve boats disappeared without a trace, along with everyone on board. Six boats sank in the Strait of Gibraltar and another six went missing in the Alboran Sea.

Monitoring the Right to Life 2015-2016

The data presented here are the product of exhaustive monitoring carried out by Ca-minando Fronteras 365 days a year. Working with migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and human rights defenders on the ground, we collect, confirm and systematise the necessary data.

From September 2015 to December 2016, we collected the data presented in our report ‘Beyond Borders’.

Over this sixteen-month period, we received a total of 309 alerts from vessels requiring assistance on routes leading to the Spanish State. A total of 7,079 people risked their lives during this time.

Among them, 388 died at sea, including 31 women and 122 children and teenagers. Only 22 bodies were retrieved from the sea and identified. The rest disappeared without a trace, leaving their families devastated.

With a total of 23 alerts from the border fences at Ceuta and Melilla, we counted 2,213 people who had been forcefully separated, as well as 569 people who had been targeted by illegal pushbacks.