The present text is an extended summary of a report produced by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat West Africa. The report examines mixed migration within, from and to West Africa and aims to gather available knowledge concerning people moving in mixed flows with the principal aim of identifying vulnerable groups and assessing their specific protection needs.
The report focuses specifically on mixed migration, a concept that emerged in the 1990s as a recognition that the existing protection regimes, founded on the basic distinction between refugees as defined by the refugee convention, and others, often summarily categorized as migrants, are inadequate to guarantee the protection of the rights of many people on the move in diverse contexts.2 Mixed migration thus reflects the realization that many people on the move, be they people fleeing violence or persecution, victims of trafficking, children or others, and regardless of the reasons compelling them to move, are vulnerable.
The current report begins by identifying and assessing the available data on mixed migration before developing an overview of the general regional migration context in West Afirca, focusing on specific routes and the factors that influence the conditions of movement. It argues that these factors expose people on the move to specific risks, exploiting existing and creating new vulnerabilities. The report then identifies certain vulnerable groups of people on the move and classifies them according to their specific vulnerabilities, with attention to the important overlap between the identified categories. The identification of certain groups and their vulnerabilities aims to serve as a basis for identifying current gaps in the protection of people in mixed migration movements within and from West Africa, and to inform more effective protection-based programming in the wider region.
The report closes by identifying knowledge gaps and outlining the potential areas for further research to improve the capacity of relevant stakeholders to develop relevant protection frameworks for people on the move, in and beyond the region.