Many refugees and migrants experience abuses
Despite different motives and routes, migrants in mixed migration flows have one thing in common: they experience severe abuses, often as victims of policies trying to stop them and via the smugglers who profit from their movements. But most people would do it again, despite the abuses. That's according to the latest trends from the 2018 Mixed Migration Review. This study is the first of its kind from the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) under the Danish Refugee Council, which builds on a unique dataset with more than 10,000 interviews with people on the move globally and a wide range of secondary sources.
Global motivation for migration exceeds the limited possibilities to cross borders. Restrictive policies do not change the scale of migration but how people migrate and the routes they use. If refugees and migrants don't succeed in the current restrictive environment, they will increasingly need to travel irregularly - with more abuses to follow. The data from the 4MI project with over 10,000 interviews indicates that depending on where migrants and refugees are interviewed, between one third and two thirds of all respondents report having experienced sexual or physical violence, robbery or kidnapping.
"Rather than reducing irregular migration, policy efforts tend to lead smugglers to adapt their routes and methods that make journeys more dangerous for refugees and migrants. At least 60,000 refugees and migrants have died during their journey since the start of this century. But if governments only seek to restrict migration and asylum arrivals, lucrative business opportunities will continue to be available for smugglers. In many locations it occurs with the collusion of state officials who might otherwise interdict smuggling activities," says Bram Frouws, head of the Mixed Migration Centre.
One of the reasons people on the move are exposed to violations is the dependency on and rise of the migrant smuggling business. In 2016 at least 2.5 million people were smuggled worldwide for an economic return of up to $7 billion. But smugglers are a heterogenous group - as the more than 300 interviews conducted with smugglers by MMC reveals.
"Smugglers are responsible for 50 percent of all incidents of sexual violence, physical violence, robbery and kidnapping reported by refugees and migrants interviewed through MMC's 4Mi project. But smugglers often provide them their only option to reach safe havens. If people want to migrate, there will be smugglers - and being honest about smuggling also entails recognising that, despite everything, smugglers mostly deliver on their promises." says Bram Frouws.
The data presented in the 4MI report is based on more than 10,000 interviews with refugees and migrants along 7 migration routes since May 2017. More than half of those citing economic reasons to migrate share that it is due to "not earning enough in the job I had" - but three quarters of respondents on all routes cited lack of social services, poor governance or corruption as a major factor.
Motivations differ per migration route, even for those coming from the same region. "Migration from West Africa is primarily driven by economic reasons, while movement from Afghanistan is more related to violence and insecurity. Those from the Horn of Africa towards Yemen and Saudi Arabia, are primarily moving for economic reasons, while those moving from the Horn towards North Africa and Europe are also moving due to a lack of basic rights. Most people experience severe abuses on the route, but almost 70 percent of all respondents said that they would migrate again, even knowing the increased risks now, showing the strength of people's aspirations and determination to move. At the same time, almost 60 percent of the same respondents said knowing the increased risks now they would not encourage others to migrate," says Bram Frouws.
Not all migration is driven by choice and not all migration experiences lead to prosperity - but migration also comes in many forms and shapes. For instance, most African migration occurs within the continent, usually to neighbouring countries.
"While irregular migration by sea to the EU has gone down a sense of crisis prevails and most policy initiatives from the EU still aim at keeping people out of Europe. The number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean has decreased in the past two years, but due to actions to stop this migration the mortality rate has increased sharply. Even if people are aware of these risks, this should not impact on their human rights and dignity. And with the joint policy efforts and money spent on combatting migration, it is worth taking this report to policy makers asking the question: Are there not more humane and economically smarter and more rational ways to organize migration?" ends Bram Frouws.
Note to editors:
This first publication of the annual Mixed Migration Review by the Mixed Migration Centre offers a review of mixed migration around the world focusing on key events and policy developments during the 2017/2018 period. The report includes a series of essays looking at the most salient and polemical issues facing the refugee and migration sectors with respect to mixed flows, as well as a series of interviews with individuals and officials closely associated with or relevant to the sector and its challenges. The report is based on a wide range of research as well as exclusive access to 4Mi data from over 10,000 interviews with refugees and migrants in over twenty countries along seven major migratory routes. In three major sections (the migrants' world, the smugglers' world and global debates), the report offers a deep analytical dive into the world of mixed migration. The report does not offer one-size-fits-all solutions or simple conclusions, but raises many difficult questions and treats the mixed migration phenomenon with the complexity it deserves. By offering a platform for debate and different voices, with this report the MMC aims to contribute to a more rational and less politicised analysis of mixed migration.
The Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) was established in February 2018. It brings together various regional initiatives hosted or led by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) engaged in data collection, research, analysis, and policy development on mixed migration issues into a new global network of mixed migration expertise.
The Danish Refugee Council assists refugees and internally displaced persons across the globe: we provide emergency aid, fight for their rights, and strengthen their opportunity for a brighter future. We work in conflict-affected areas, along the displacement routes, and in the countries where refugees settle. In cooperation with local communities, we strive for responsible and sustainable solutions. We work toward successful integration and - whenever possible - for the fulfillment of the wish to return home.
The Danish Refugee Council was founded in Denmark in 1956, and has since grown to become an international humanitarian organization with more than 7,000 staff and 8,000 volunteers. Our vision is a dignified life for All displaced.