Disaggregating migration data by age is essential for analyzing age dynamics of migrant populations. For child migrants, data disaggregated by age, gender and information on whether children are accompanied by a parent, family member, guardian, sponsor, or not, are particularly important to determine potential levels of vulnerability and protection needs during transit and on arrival. Child migrants are at risk of abuse, trafficking and exploitation, especially if they travel alone and through irregular migration pathways. There are several types of data sources that disaggregate migrant stocks and flows by age, although none can offer precise numbers or a full global picture.
Under international law, migrants have rights by virtue of their humanity. International human rights instruments, or treaties and documents such as declarations, are of general application and therefore apply to migrants. There are also a number of international instruments that specifically intend to address the protection of migrants. In addition, recent attention has been drawn to the obligations of states, under international human rights law, towards dead and missing migrants (Grant, 2016). Migrant rights may be evaluated by measuring the rights granted to migrants in principle or in practice. The former is relatively straightforward and looks at international and regional treaty ratifications and countries’ legal documents to protect migrants, while the latter requires looking at implementation of rights, or if migrants’ rights are actually upheld and exercised. Measuring the rights granted to migrants in practice is limited by a lack of data, information, resources, and the large number of rights relevant to migrants.
Smuggling of migrants
Migrant smuggling refers to the movement of persons across international borders for financial benefit. Data on migrant smuggling allow policymakers to better understand the phenomena as well as to develop policies that promote safe and orderly migration. Data on smuggling are scarce, and there is no annual global report on migrant smuggling trends. Official statistics on migrant smuggling are limited as many countries do not collect or publish such data. The little data that do exist on smuggling are retrieved from arrivals numbers, such as those across the Mediterranean, or are based on the number of migrants apprehended at a border (Laczko and McAuliffe, 2016). A useful indicator on migrant smuggling and the concern States have over the practice is the number of countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary protocol, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. However, the extent to which these countries have implemented their obligations remains difficult to determine.
Migrant deaths and disappearances
Since 2014, more than 4,000 fatalities have been recorded annually on migratory routes worldwide. The number of deaths recorded, however, represent only a minimum estimate because the majority of migrant deaths around the world go unrecorded. Since 2000, more than 60,000 migrant deaths have been recorded globally. These data not only highlight the issue of migrant fatalities and the consequences for families left behind, but can also be used to assess the risks of irregular migration and to design policies and programmes to make migration safer.