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A List Of Loss: Newspaper Collects Tragic Tally Of 33,293 Dead Migrants

Some 300 people died off the island of Lampedusa in a shipwreck southern Italy in 2013. Here, their coffins fill a large room as they wait to be moved.
Tullio M. Puglia
Getty Images
Some 300 people died off the island of Lampedusa in a shipwreck southern Italy in 2013. Here, their coffins fill a large room as they wait to be moved.

In July 2003, Elmas Ozmico died of blood poisoning in the U.K., where she had been seeking asylum after fleeing Turkey in the back of a semi-trailer truck. Fatim Jawara, a 19-year-old who played on the Gambian national soccer team and dreamed of playing in Europe, drowned off the coast of Libya before she could make it to Italy. Mamadou Konate, 33, did manage to make it to Italy — but the Malian migrant died earlier this year in a blaze that consumed a ramshackle camp in San Severo.

Their stories are tragic, but they're not uncommon. They comprise just a tiny fraction of the vast number of migrants and refugees who have died in the quest to reach safety in Europe, as Der Tagesspiegel made plain earlier this week.

The German newspaper published a list of people who it says died while trying to immigrate to the continent between 1993 and May of this year, a list that contains exactly 33,293 entries. These entries offer the circumstances of each migrant's death, as well as name, age, and country of origin, where available.

The paper published the list to mark a date shared by two very different events in German history: Nov. 9 — when the Berlin Wall fall in 1989, but also when Nazis arrested thousands of Jews and burned Jewish establishments in 1938, a night that's come to be known as Kristallnacht. The paper wanted to take this date, often a moment for reflection, to recognize the people it sees as victims of today's "restrictive policies of Europe on the continent's outer borders or inside Europe."

You can read the full list at this link.

"Many victims are recorded as having drowned in the Mediterranean or having frozen to death on Europe's mainland," Esme Nicholson reports for NPR's Newcast unit. "Others are listed as having died in violent attacks in Europe or after taking their own lives in detention centers."

And though the list may end in May of this year, the staggering human toll continues to rise. The International Organization for Migration notes that at least 2,961 people have died on the journey into Europe this year, as of Nov. 10.

"We want to honor them," Der Tagesspiegel's Stephan-Andreas Casdorff and Lorenz Maroldt wrote in the introduction to the list, according to an Associated Press translation. "And at the same time we want to show that every line tells a story...and that the list keeps getting longer, day by day."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.