Presents

Missing
on the RoadRoad

The journeys are long and dangerous; across the Mediterranean, the Maghreb, the Central American corridor. People fleeing violence and scarcity, migrating to stay alive just one more day. These stories are just one part of this global issue: they are the stories of those who left to find a better life, but never arrived.

Explore the stories in the words & pictures of migrants & their families
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Background image showing portraits of missing migrants

I

Instability

It is estimated that nearly 500,000 people cross into Mexico from neighbouring countries in Central America every year (UNHCR Mexico Fact Sheet 2017). Different reasons motivate these journeys, but the experiences are often the same.

Home Isn't Safe

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Surging gang violence and extortion make looking after a family difficult, regardless of whether you own your business or work as an employee.

Photograph of Parent whose child is missing Photograph of Missing Migrants Child

Lack of
Opportunity,
Poverty,
Insecurity

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creates uncertainty,
undermines stability.

Photograph of a Migrant
Handwritten note from a Migrant
Mersa, my daughter, wherever you are, know that your mother loves you and that you are very special.

Lack of
Opportunity,
Poverty,
Insecurity

.

.

.

creates uncertainty,
undermines stability -

Economy
Inequality

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.

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puts a strain on families’ ability to thrive. In recent years, growing economies have not included everyone, and many families continue to struggle to get by.

Father of a missing Migrant thinking Handwritten note from a Migrant
Photograph of Missing Migrants pet dog Child of missing Migrant

Education
Cut Short

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Chronic violence is a fixture of everyday life for many. As a result, many children enter adulthood deprived of a meaningful education.

Family
Reunification

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Family separation is a common cause and consequence of migration. People with relatives living abroad frequently migrate to reunite with their loved ones.

Background image showing Migrants walking along road

II

Departure

Whether seeking a better life, steady work, or a little stability and safety, the migrant’s vulnerability escalates the moment they depart.

Perilous
Journeys

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Because of the irregular nature of the trip, the travels of migrants are filled with danger and struggle, most taking weeks or months. But accurate data is scarce; no one knows for sure how many migrants go missing.

Handwritten note from a Missing Migrant

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Because of the irregular nature of the trip, the travels of migrants are filled with danger and struggle, most taking weeks or months. But accurate data is scarce; no one knows for sure how many migrants go missing.

Financial
Burden

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.

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Many have to take out expensive loans, either from banks or individuals, to pay for the trip. Repayment is based on the hope of finding work and sending money home.

Parent of a missing Migrant Belongings from those missing
Handwritten note from a traveling Migrant
Brother, we love you very much. Your mother, your brothers and your sisters miss you with all our hearts.
Doris Yamileth Meza

Inherited
Debt

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If the person disappears, their family must struggle to repay the loan. Under this debt, businesses and households suffer, often leaving families worse off than before the person left.

Losing
Touch

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Migrants often lose contact with their families because of the dangers of the route, their irregular status, or because they lack the means to call their relatives. Losing touch with relatives may increase the risk of going missing and the uncertainty has a psychological toll upon families.

Train tracks

III

Migration

Connected to each missing migrant is a family living in uncertainty, not knowing if their loved one is dead or alive. These pictures from Central America are one part of a global story. It is a story woven by a common thread of pain, loss, and unknowing for the families left behind.

Alexander

1095 days on the road
Migrant Alexanders hand written note
Photo of Alexander Photo of Alexander Migrant Alexanders hand written note
My name is Alexander. I come from El Salvador. I've been travelling for a long time. I've been on 14 trains but I haven't suffered as much as others, thanks be to God. I've fallen to my knees and cried with sadness, pain and loneliness. I've been hungry and gone without a drop to drink. I've been cold and faced discrimination and insults, but I've also been helped a lot. Everything you come up against can knock your hope of moving forward.

Fofo

52 days on the road
Photo of Fofo

Fofo

52 days on the road
Migrant Fofo hand written note
Don't trust anyone. Look after yourself and those traveling with you. Work together to achieve your goal. But above all, don't let yourself be defeated.
Sunset from travels

Maria Delmy

8 days on the road
Photo of Maria Delmy
Handwritten note by Maria Delmy
My reason for taking the journey is to reach my family. That’s really important to me. I miss them a lot but I know that God will help us get there. We've left our homes to make better and healthier lives for ourselves. The journey is exhausting but God will help us.
-Maria's Husband

Johnson

4 days on the road
Migrant Alexanders hand written note
Photo of Alexander Migrant Alexanders hand written note
To my dear friends, I’d just like to say that this journey to the United States is very hard. Me and my friends have suffered a lot. We’ve walked a long way and managed without food or anything to drink. I really miss my family, especially my son. He’s the most precious thing I have.

Jorge

4 days on the road
Photo of Jorge Hand Written note from Jorge
All I can say is that you need to be brave on this journey and willing to go through all the effort. It's a tough road, but your faith in God will keep you going.

Juan Antonio

7 days on the road
Photo of Juan Photo of Juan

Juan Antonio

7 days on the road
My gorgeous mother, I know that you miss me but don't worry, I'm fine. And to all of my friends who still want to make the journey, I’d like to say that it’s very rough. You'll be hungry, won't sleep and sometimes get attacked.
Photo of Juan

Prudencio

40 days on the road
Photo of Prudencio
Hand written note from Prudencio
My fellow Hondurans, my name is Prudencio. Before deciding to leave our country, think hard. For me, this is the third time I've made this journey and it's not easy at all. You suffer a lot. There are moments of joy and moments of suffering, in my experience. I would say don’t do it because it's very difficult. There are thieves everywhere. I will leave you with this message. Prudencio Moncadade, Honduras
Hand written note from Prudencio

IV

Disappearances

Migrants are considered missing when families cannot establish contact. They may be alive but are detained without access to communication, or they take risky routes and their remains are never found or identified. Migrants or their families may also choose not to seek help for fear of the risks it may bring.

People who pass away along migration routes are sometimes buried without identification or registry, making it difficult for authorities to trace them and for families to be informed of the fate or whereabouts of their missing relatives.
Missing migrants items
Photo of some of Balvinos belongings
What support is there
for these families?