Marking World Refugee Day with an effort to commemorate the tens of thousands of migrants who have lost their lives attempting to flee violence, war, and persecution in their home countries, the Guardian on Wednesday printed a list of all 34,361 refugees known to have died attempting to reach Europe over the past two decades.
In today's paper we've printed a list of 34,361 refugees known to have died trying to make it to Europe. In the absence of official data, an activist group has been gathering details behind the defining crisis of our times: https://t.co/VmiEuw2RwU #worldrefugeeday pic.twitter.com/RP2xfz0p9p
— The Guardian (@guardian) June 20, 2018
Compiled by the Dutch organization United for Intercultural Action, the list of names is far from comprehensive, and the actual death toll "is certain to be much higher," the Guardian noted.
Acknowledging that researchers cannot know the precise number of people who have died while attempting to escape to safety in Europe, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam professor Thomas Spijkerboer said the list of names printed by the Guardian clearly shows that the refugee crisis "has been ongoing for 25 years and the people who pretend to be shocked now should have been shocked a long time ago."
According to United Nations Refugee Agency data released on Tuesday, a record 68.5 million people are currently displaced after fleeing persecution and violence.
"We are not just a number. Every migrant and refugee has a name and a story," Alba Mora Roca, an executive producer at AJ+ Español, wrote on Twitter in response to the newly published list.
In a statement on Wednesday, Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner on refugees, said it is long past time that the nations of the world show "solidarity with refugees" and take collective action to relieve their plight.
"Nine out of 10 are in their own countries or countries next door, and the impact is massive—on refugees themselves, and on the communities that open their doors to them," Grandi noted. "Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global—and shared—responsibility."