Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat Briefing Paper 4: - No victimless crime: Voices from those on the move (June 2017)


In 2014, the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) introduced a new data collection project named the Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism initiative, or 4Mi - an innovative, low-cost approach to collect and analyse data on mixed migration flows along major migration corridors out of the Horn of Africa. Through a network of monitors (enumerators) stationed at key migration hubs through which migrant smuggling and migrant movement occurs, 4Mi collects of wealth of primary information directly from migrants on the move. Monitors interview migrants (and smugglers) on a continuous basis, using a mobile-based survey application to collect in-depth information on the profiles of migrants, drivers of migration, journey conditions, protection risks, destination countries, and the role of smugglers. Monitors are located in hubs, from Norway to South Africa, while the project is expanding globally to cover other migration routes in West Africa, North Africa and Central and South Asia.

Between the November 2014 and April 2017, the 4Mi East Africa and Yemen programme interviewed almost 3,500 migrants and over 150 smugglers, with the largest numbers interviewed in Egypt, South Africa, Djibouti, Uganda, Somalia, Kenya and Libya.

While primarily designed to collect comparable data, using coded and quantifiable interview questions, the 4Mi monitors also collect qualitative statements from the migrants about their experiences along the journey on a continuous basis.

Taken together, the almost 3,500 interviews so far (interviews are ongoing) provided a rich and revealing collection of 655 quotes from migrants on the move.3 So far, results from the 4Mi project have mostly been presented in the form of numbers and percentages. While useful and necessary to build up a more solid and evidence-based understanding of mixed migration, the individual stories might get lost and it is easy to forget that behind every single number, there is a human being, someone who decided to leave everything behind and take incredible risks, in order to escape the circumstances back home and to find a better life elsewhere.

Putting aside the legal and policy discussions around the status of these people, whether these migrants have a right to asylum and residence in destination countries, what should happen to those whose asylum claims are rejected and whether some of these migrants have deliberately chosen to take all the risks of migration – knowing that in some cases they may have little chance to be allowed to stay in their chosen destination countries – ultimately, basic human rights are non-negotiable. The quotes that are presented in this paper speak to the extent to which these human rights are violated all along the route.

In recognizing this and the work of the 4Mi monitors who have collected the stories of these migrants under difficult circumstances and in remote locations, full authorship of this paper is given to the migrants themselves and the 4Mi monitors.

All quotes presented below are structured thematically and refer to human rights and protection issues during migration journeys. These quotes provide a shocking and vivid account of the various and harsh abuses migrants are facing during migration. The quotes also point to high levels of involvement of certain state officials in both the facilitation of migration as well as various forms of abusive practices towards migrants.