Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghreb and the European Union

An Overview of Recent Trends

image of Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghreb and the European Union

The media and prevailing policy discourses convey an increasingly apocalyptic image of the massive outflows of desperate Africans fleeing poverty and war at home. This study tries to achieve a more empirically and quantitatively founded understanding of the nature, scale and recent evolution of irregular West African migration to Maghreb and Europe. Furthermore, the publication evaluates how policies to manage trans-Saharan and trans-Mediterranean migration have affected current migration patterns.



Research gaps and needs

There are still huge gaps in the knowledge of irregular and regular migration from West Africa to North Africa and Europe. This is partly related to the lack of awareness of existing studies, but mostly to a genuine lack of relevant empirical material. So far, research on the issue has focused on mapping migration routes, estimating the magnitude of migration flows, and studying smuggling and (supposed or real) trafficking methods. Many existing publications rely on secondary sources such as media reportage and government sources. They are often written with a focus on finding “solutions”, that is, to curb irregular migration rather than to genuinely understand the process of migration and the experiences, motives, and concrete livelihoods of the migrants themselves. Hence, it is of paramount importance to achieve a more socially embedded understanding of the phenomenon (see also Van Liempt, 2007: 46).


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