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.


  • Algeria's Western Mediterranean route: wall of indifference

    We introduce this work on the basis of methodological tools that allow us to understand the mutual ignorance between the territories of northern Algeria and the east of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. We conducted interviews on both sides of the border with people who made the route, with relatives in search of their loved ones, with social organisations and human rights defenders, and with representatives of public administrations. The case study approach has allowed us to introduce a longitudinal and diachronic perspective into the research. The analysis of actors has been fundamental to reinforce a critical point: the search for dead and missing persons along the route. Using these methodological tools, we have been able to reconstruct the “great wall of ignorance that allows the rights of migrants to be made invisible, stigmatised, violated, and eroded along this migratory route”.

  • Harragas: burning down the barriers

    Undocumented travellers who defy the barriers of migration control are called harraga. The term is common in Dariya and Algerian Arabic. It comes from the word quemar. In this paper we have noted the value of the word to name the social, public and widespread fact of the Algerian diaspora. Who are they, how do they organise their migratory journey and what do they face when they manage to reach European territories? What responsibilities does the Spanish state have in the defence of life and the rescue of these people when they are shipwrecked? What factors contribute to overshadow situations of human rights violations and stigmatisation of these migrant communities? What specific violations are migrant women and children facing on this route?

  • Maps of the invisible

    We have resorted to an analysis of the social actors linked to this migratory route in order to understand what lies behind the high numbers of missing and deceased persons at the border. The violation of rights and the invisibilisation of the route pose enormous obstacles to the “protection of the dead, disappeared and their families”. In this chapter we note the enormous organisational capacity of the families, but also how the lack of information, the circulation of hoaxes and the exploitation by those who see these situations of defencelessness as a business opportunity affect the right of the disappeared to be sought and the right of their families to truth, justice and reparation.

  • Life stories

    We conclude this work with the voices of Bilal and Salma, who have been searching for their brother and uncle respectively since they left the Algerian coast for Spain in August 2021 and January 2022. Their experiences show the importance of solidarity networks between families and how the organisation of people on both sides of the border has become a key factor in the search for missing persons. Their testimonies also point to the responsibilities of states in the search for migrants and the opaque network of fraudsters who circulate unverified information and extort money from families.


Download the full report here: Wall of indifference. La ruta argelina del Mediterráneo Occidental (Spanish version)

Download the full report here: Un mur d’indiferència. La ruta algeriana de la Mediterrània Occidental (Catalan version)