Burkina Faso + 10 more

Quarterly Mixed Migration Update West Africa, Quarter 1, 2020

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This Quarterly Mixed Migration Update (QMMU) covers the West Africa (WA) region. The core countries of focus for this region are Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Depending on the quarterly trends and migration-related updates, more attention may be given to any of the countries over the rest.

The QMMUs offer a quarterly update on new trends and dynamics related to mixed migration and relevant policy developments in the region. These updates are based on compilation of a wide range of secondary (data) sources, brought together within a regional framework and applying a mixed migration analytical lens. Similar QMMU’s are available for all MMC regions.

Key Updates

• Canary Islands arrivals: In the first three months of 2020, boat arrivals in the Canary Islands of approximately 1,426 persons1 had already surpassed 50% of the 2019 total of 2,700 persons.

• Spiraling displacement in Burkina Faso: As of 25 March, the number of internally displaced persons in Burkina Faso was an estimated 838,548. This is another substantial increase over the total at the end of the last quarter, when figures stood at 560,033 as of 31 December 2019.

• Cameroonian refugees: In the first two weeks of February, around the 9 February elections in Cameroon, nearly 8,000 Cameroonians fled violence between armed groups and security forces, crossing into southeastern Nigeria.

• Abandoned migrants and refugees in Niger: Some 256 people en route to Libya were left in the desert near the Niger/Libya border by the smugglers who had accompanied them. The group, which also included a baby, comprised many Nigerians (104), Ghanaians (53) and Burkinabés (34), among others. They were taken to Agadez where they were being hosted in the local stadium during a 14 day Covid-19 quarantine period.

• Covid-19 mobility impacts: The Covid-19 pandemic has affected mobility across West Africa. As of the end of March, borders remained open only in Benin, the Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone. International air travel was also almost entirely halted; only Benin and Togo were still open to international flights, and Sierra Leone’s airport was open with restrictions. Border closures have stranded travelers in a variety of locations across the region.

• ECHR ruling: On 13 February, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) overturned the Court’s previous ruling on a case brought by two West African asylum seekers. It found that the Spanish authorities in the autonomous city of Melilla, which borders Morocco, had not violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights when it turned them over to Moroccan authorities without allowing them to make an asylum claim. According to the Grand Chamber, the two men “did not make use of the official entry procedures existing for that purpose,” although human rights advocates, NGOs and UN bodies expressed skepticism that such procedures were effectively available.