Global Migration Futures: Using scenarios to explore future migration in the Horn of Africa & Yemen

Overview of the project

The Horn of Africa and Yemen is home to highly visible migration flows, whose numbers have been increasing over the last two decades. Migration in this region has been described as ‘mixed’, a term used to capture the varied social, economic, political, and environmental motivations of individuals who utilise similar migration channels and trajectories, and, as the insights from this project emphasize, the multiple motivations for migration that may co-exist within the same individual.

The term ‘mixed’ migration may also describe migrants whose motivations for movement may have changed en route, causing them to switch between the different legal categories of migration for which they might qualify.1 While the migration literature recognises the main drivers of movement in the region, the regional dialogue on ‘mixed’ migration remains weak and current initiatives tend to be local and scattered and often fail to account for the existence of all forms of mobility in the region. The emergency conditions, particularly the violations against migrants’ human rights, which persist in parts of the region, often lead to short-term research and planning, and prioritise mechanisms for the protection of migrants’ human rights.

While essential, this focus can prevent the promotion of research that captures all forms of mobility, from internal to international, and the development of longer-term perspectives and reflections on how the conditions in the region may change over time and how these changes may impact international migration in the future.

From January to August 2012, the Global Migration Futures (GMF) project of the International Migration Institute collaborated with the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) in Nairobi to promote discussions on possible longer-term developments in the region and to create scenarios for future international migration to, from and within the Horn of Africa and Yemen in 2030. Through this collaboration, 1 Jureidini, R. (2010). ‘Mixed Migration Flows: Somali and Ethiopian migration to Yemen and Turkey’. Cairo, Mixed Migration Task Force. the GMF research team investigated the patterns and drivers of contemporary movement and the potential futures of migration flows, as well as the scale and scope of the various protection and assistance mechanisms required for the near and mid-term future.

It is important to emphasize that the project’s scenarios are not predictions or forecasts of the future, rather they are possibilities of what the region’s key migration drivers and patterns may be in 2030. Scenarios serve as tools for innovative thinking about future change and are created through a series of exercises carried out by experts and stakeholders in migration in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

This report is organised in sections that reflect the scenario building process:

• Section 2 introduces the core elements of the scenario methodology and the role of stakeholders in the development of scenarios.

• Section 3 presents past and present migration dynamics and patterns in the region.

• Section 4 discusses trends that are significant in shaping migration and for which researchers are relatively certain – based on available data and knowledge – will continue through 2030 – e.g. population growth.

• Section 5 explores the factors that are highly uncertain in terms of how they will take shape in the future. They highlight trends that need to be monitored because they may substantially impact the volume and direction of future migration – e.g. forms of governance.

• Section 6 presents two scenarios of possible futures in the region, their potential consequences for migration, as well as offering a number of insights and important questions for future migration research and policymaking.