25. Oktober 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Mapping border deaths in Australia and Europe“ (Cochrane) · Kategorien: Hintergrund · Tags: ,


Mapping border deaths in Australia and Europe

PhD Candidate Brandy Cochrane recently presented a research mapping exercise of those who have died whilst crossing borders to Australia and in Europe at the 2013 Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference in Brisbane.

In developing her map, Brandy used BOb’s Australian Border Deaths Database  and an EU equivalent from United Against Racism, to look at areas of origin and deaths at the borders of those attempting to make the perilous migration journey. She presents her findings and a discussion of the development of her map below arguing that those from certain areas are more likely to die in the borderlands than others, attributing such tragedies to border hardening tactics applied by states against these areas.

1 Brandy Map


A consequence of border securitization is that migrants from certain areas of origin are proportionately more likely to die in the borderlands during migration attempts. In sheer numbers, those who come from Africa are dying in the greatest amounts in relation to the EU, while those from Middle Eastern countries are most likely to die in relation to Australia.

Looking at the results between area of origin and dying in the borderlands, the EU and Australian data reveal groups facing the greatest likelihood of dying at or near the border come from these same countries, notably African countries for the EU (75%) and Middle Eastern countries for Australia (80%), that are also most likely rejected for lawful entry due to being from “risky” countries based on risk assessments made by these states. Instead of this intended effect, what it may do instead is funnel people of certain areas of origins into more dangerous crossings, as they do not have equal access to this legal entry.

Counting deaths in the borderlands is of great importance in the current climate of securitization at the global North’s borders. However, there are no governmental or official sources of data regarding border-related deaths throughout the world. These types of deaths often remain unrecorded and unrecognized by nation states and international organizations. Researchers instead must rely on information from news outlets or NGOs where the quality and quantity of information available is often limited.

This work suggests two things. First, we need to go beyond the NGO data which has been started around border deaths. An international database of by governments and other interested parties, will serve to better document the human cost of irregular border crossing and helping to identify commonalities of those who die in order to stop their deaths. Secondly, the preemptive assessments which are common practice for the EU and Australia need to be examined for consequences to migrants who encounter them.


Mapping these deaths at the border was an important task for me. Having grouped the countries by specific broader areas, using UN data, mapping allowed me to see the broader trends which emerged in the area of deaths which occur at the borderlands. The next result which I wanted to show was flows of people moving from areas of origin to destination countries. I used arrows to indicate by width, the percentage of border deaths within my dataset which occurred in the borderlands. Through this mapping exercise,  I went beyond the overall border deaths to support my argument that risk assessments made in the global North which are targeted against certain areas may be contributing to deaths from these regions.

Data Specifics

Representing deaths which occur at the border, this map shows the areas of origin of those who die in the borderlands and the intended destination area, either the EU or Australia. The data for this map came from two sources: the Border Crossing Observatory’s Australian Border Deaths Database list and information compiled by the organization United for Intercultural Action (UNITED), a European network of NGOs working to combat nationalism, racism, and fascism to support migrants and refugees.

Looking to overall deaths (not indicated on the map) Africans, at over half, (n = 7,792) were those who most frequently died border crossing on journeys to the EU. North African regions were cited in about 40% (n = 5,295) of deaths and Sub-Saharan Africa in about 18% (n = 2,497). In Australia the area of origin with the highest percentage of deaths was the Middle East with nearly 80% (n = 519), followed by the Indian Subcontinent/Asia with 20% (n = 135).

BC Table 1A

When looking specifically to area of origin and deaths in the borderlands (as shown by the map), a crosstab test on the EU data comparing dying in the borderlands and area of origin showed that Africans had the highest numbers of death with more than three quarters of all deaths in the borderlands: North Africans were about half (n=5,019) and Sub-Saharan Africans about one-quarter (n=2,383) of all deaths. When running these same tests for the Australian data, again between dying in the borderlands and area of origin, those from the Middle East had the highest number of deaths at 80% (n= 510), followed by those from the Indian Subcontinent/Asia at about 20% (n=122).

BC Table 2

Assessment Specifics

Border assessments are not just one action to deter migration. Instead, it is a series of strategies enacted by state and non-state actors before the geographical borders of a country. These strategies include intelligence networks, risk analyses around visa granting, document tracking programs, migration alert systems, the gathering of biometrics and facial identities, and carrier sanctions (Amoore, 2006; Amoore & DeGoede, 2005; Ceyhan, 2002; Cote-Boucher, 2002; Salter, 2004; Walters, 2006; Weber, 2007; Weber & Bowling, 2008; Wilson & Weber, 2002; Wonder, 2007; Zureik & Salter, 2005).

Authors have argued the intended effects for the state of virtual border assessments are to preemptively disrupt migrants from leaving a third country to a desired state (Walters, 2006; Weber, 2007; Wilson & Weber, 2002; Wonders, 2007). These assessments may be enacted on migrants by both state actors (such as the state who wishes to disrupt travel) (Pickering & Weber, 2013) and non-state actors, such as airline employees (Kjaerum, 2002; Weber, 2007; Wilson & Weber, 2008) who are compelled by state policies to perform virtual border assessments. Examining the literature on border assessment, three larger classifications of harms and outcomes emerge: heightened physical risks (Andreas, 1999; Lutterbeck, 2006; Pickering & Cochrane, 2012), suspension/contravention of the law (Bowling, 2009; Broadhurst, 2003; Pickering, 2004), and the promotions of other crimes (Green & Grewcock, 2002; Wonders, 2007).

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