Press Release 20th June 2015


International Refugee Day – 20th June

To mark International Refugee Day, UNITED is publishing an updated edition of its List of Deaths, this website and an interactive map. We call on you to protest against the fatal policies of Fortress Europe that lead to the deaths of desperate people looking for safe refuge.
In recent months, stories of the thousands of people who have drowned in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to reach Europe have shocked people all over the continent and seen the issue of refugee deaths rise towards the top of the European political and media agenda. But despite the attention generated by the situation in the Mediterranean, EU representatives seem unable to come to any consensus on sharing the burden of migratory waves between southern and northern Europe, with nationalistic interests dominating discussions. Meanwhile migration continues, with the risky conditions at sea not seeming to provide any discouragement to migrants.

Complicating the issue yet further is the fact that refugee deaths are not limited to the Mediterranean: refugees die of suffocation and exposure hiding in freight containers and the undercarriages of planes; refugees die in the dire conditions of detention centres; refugees die in police custody and at the hands of deportation officials; refugees are murdered by fascist thugs, denied both the protection of the authorities and recourse to justice. As diverse as they may seem, all of these deaths are a direct result of the fatal policies of Fortress Europe: the political agenda which puts the protection of Europe’s borders ahead of the protection of the lives of the world’s most desperate and vulnerable people. This is DEATH BY POLICY.

Since 1993, UNITED has been documenting the effects of these fatal policies by compiling a list of the thousands of people who have died in their attempt to reach Europe. Now including details of over 22,000 people, the UNITED List of Deaths has become a key tool (1) for activists, artists and researchers dealing with the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
In Strasbourg, the activist group Collectif pour une autre politique migratoire has held demonstrations using a 100m-long print of the list which they unfurl at the European Parliament, defiantly reminding MEPs and the European Commission of their failure to act. Across the continent, Turkish artist Banu Cennetoglu displays the list on public billboards, reminding the people of Europe of the lives lost in search of the security and prosperity that they take for granted. In Amsterdam, Prof. Thomas Spijkerboer and his team have used the list to assist with their research into undocumented migrant deaths in Europe’s maritime borders, shining a much-needed light into this neglected area of study.

This year, to mark The International Refugee Day on 20th June, UNITED is once again publishing an updated version of The List of documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and (un)documented migrants due to the restrictive policies of Fortress Europe. We have launched this website, which includes an interactive map that clearly shows that the issue of refugee deaths is not limited to the Mediterranean and Europe’s southern borders: this is a Europe-wide problem, which, if it is ever to be resolved, will require a Europe-wide response. Now more than ever, it is essential that we stand UNITED against refugee deaths.

Wake up the policy-makers! It is extremely important for the purposes of the campaign to raise awareness of this issue throughout Europe. The main targets are media and the general public. With their help it is possible to force European politicians to reconsider European immigration policies and to develop a human vision on migration.

Why 20th of June?

The Europe-wide network UNITED for Intercultural Action brings together more than 550 organisations from 48 European countries and a wide variety of backgrounds to work together on common activities and projects against racism, fascism and nationalism and in support of migrants and refugees. In order to bring new perspectives to the debate and to highlight the issue of migrant rights and refugee deaths, UNITED has been coordinating an annual campaign around this date since 1996. In 2001, following years of pressure and advocacy from campaign groups such as UNITED, a special UN General Assembly Resolution was adopted to declare 20th June as International Refugee Day. As the former African Refugee Day, this date was chosen as an expression of solidarity with Africa, which is the continent that hosts the most refugees.

(1) The UNITED List of Deaths and other UNITED publications can be freely re-used, translated and re-distributed, provided source ( is mentioned and a copy is sent to the UNITED Secretariat.

The Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe – No More Deaths – Time for Change! Join this campaign on Facebook!
Twitter @UNITED__Network #AgainstRefugeeDeaths

UNITED is the pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, supported by more than 550 organisations from 48 European countries. How to join the network: see

This campaign has been made possible with support of the Council of Europe (European Youth Foundation), the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, and the Open Society Foundations.
The information contained herein does not necessarily reflect the position nor the opinion of our sponsors. Sponsors are not to be held responsible for any use that may be made of it.

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UNITED is supported by:
more than 550 organisations from 48 European countries, many prominent individuals, private supporters and long-term volunteers from Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste, Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. UNITED is always looking for new supporters. Also want to become a supporter? Fill the form on and send it to UNITED.

Since 1992 financial support was received from various sponsors such as: European Commission (General Budget/Socrates/Grundtvig/Youth in Action/Erasmus+/DG Employment Social Affairs/TACIS IBPP), Council of Europe (European Youth Foundation/European Youth Centres), OSCE-ODIHR, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, World Council of Churches, Olof Palmes MinnesFond, Cultural Council Sweden, Ministry of Education Slovenia, Green Group-, Socialist Group-, and GUE/NGL Group in the European Parliament, European Cultural Foundation, Stiftung West-Östliche Begegnung, Aktionsbündnis Gegen Gewalt, Rechtextremismus und Fremdenfeindlichkeit Brandenburg, Home Office UK, Ministry of Interior-BZK NL, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs CH, the Matra Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Instituto Português da Juventude, National Integration Office Sweden, Service Nationale de la Jeunesse Luxembourg, LNU – Norwegian Youth Council, Europees Platform Grundtvig, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Federal Social Ins. Office (Dep. for Youth Affairs) CH, Swiss Coordination Office of Youth for Europe, Federal Service for Combating Racism (Fund for Projects Against Racism) CH, Migros Kulturprozent CH, Comunidad de Madrid, Ministry of Youth and Sport of Azerbaijan, The Swedish National Board of Youth Affairs, Rothschild Foundation, Local Municipality of Budapest, Youth Board of Cyprus, Jewish Humanitarian Fund, Foundation Remembrance Responsibility and Future, Minority Rights Group Europe, OSCE – Mission to Skopje, Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, Provincie Noord-Brabant, Open Society Foundations, Children and Youth Development Fund Georgia, Final Frontiers Internet, Dijkman Print and others.
This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the sponsors cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.