Skip to main content

Undocumented Migration Dynamics from West Africa to Europe

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Human Displacement from a Global South Perspective

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a general overview on the global challenges linked with undocumented migrations from the Sub-Saharan West Africa to Europe, linking these dynamics with theoretical approaches on international migrations and including a case study, undocumented migrations flux from Ivory Coast. This paper is divided into three main parts. The first focuses on the major structural and behavioral factors motivating West African populations to migrate, with an emphasis put on Ivory Coast, a country particularly concerned with global South-North migration. The second part follows the path of undocumented migrants and their journey through the Saharan desert to the Mediterranean shores. Economic stakes of “migrant roads” in Niger and the human rights threats implied by the security issues in Libya are highlighted. The third part presents an overview of different political answers given to undocumented migrants movements from the sub-Saharan region to Europe. A multiscale approach is adopted, from international agreements at the United Nations level to European disagreements and national “voluntary return” deployed by Ivory Coast, our case study.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    Center-periphery studies in international relations already shown in the 1970s–1980s a migration tendency from “underdeveloped” African countries (periphery) to Europe (center) as a consequence of capitalist development mechanisms considering a Marxist development theory (Gregory and Piché 1978).

  2. 2.

    Our main case study throughout this chapter will be Ivoirian undocumented migrants, based on data taken from official reports available online from the International Organization for Migration and a study conducted by IOM Ivory Coast. The study was conducted at Félix Houphouët-Boigny Airport in Abidjan and consisted into interviews with Ivoirian citizens that were “returnees” from Libya, at their arrival at Félix Houphouët Boigny Airport in Abidjan, as they were benefiting from a multilateral program. The study took place in the presence of Institut Afrique Monde Côte d’Ivoire members that generously made their documentation available to the author who was working as their Parisian office counterpart at that time.

  3. 3.

    Aforementioned data used throughout this chapter are available at: https://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/country/docs/cote-divoire/Cote-d%27Ivoire-Rapport-Profilage-2017.pdf. See methodology details on page 3 of the report. Study conducted on more than 1,000 Ivoirian migrants in 2017.

  4. 4.

    “By definition, because it is irregular, such migration is difficult to quantify. The figures put forward are extrapolated from the number of arrivals, not departures. That is terrible, but how else can we assess the scale of the phenomenon other than in a very approximate way?” (Author’s own translation) Taken from an Interview of Mr. Ibrahim SY SAVANÉ, by Mrs. Marie Miran-Guyon 2017. This interview by Miran-Guyon is referred to several times in throughout this chapter and is available online (in French) at https://www.cairn.info/revue-afrique-contemporaine-2017-3-page-255.htm.

  5. 5.

    These authors also consider two other types of international migration; forced migration, and international retirement migration.

  6. 6.

    However, in most cases, Ivoirian fleeing the 2011 crisis later returned to Ivory Coast with less economic power than when they left, according to Ibrahim Sy Savané (Op. Cit).

  7. 7.

    Data taken from “The Irregular migration from West Africa to Europe: What challenges for ECOWAS countries?” Report of the regional colloquium 12, 13, and 14 March 2019, Abidjan. UNESCO, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, ECOWAS, European Union.

  8. 8.

    Ibid.

  9. 9.

    Economic Community of West African States.

  10. 10.

    Data taken from an interview of Mr. Ibrahim SY SAVANÉ, by Mrs. Marie Miran-Guyon (2017).

  11. 11.

    ASCPE, “Putting migration at the heart of EU cooperation with Africa”, seminar report of Association’s UE-Afrique platform (“plateforme UEAfrique(s)”), directed by Claude FISCHER-HERZOG, 31 January 2019, with the participation of Michel FOUCHER.

  12. 12.

    Data taken from a Nigerian official survey conducted in 2016, consulted within Olivier Walther’s cartography (2018), in Kirwin & Anderson’s report for OECD on “Identifying the factors driving West African migration”, P14.

  13. 13.

    Based on 2019 official figures from the International Organization for Migration. “IOM’s Missing Migrants Project tracks deaths of migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, who have gone missing along mixed migration routes worldwidehttps://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean.

  14. 14.

    Ibid.

  15. 15.

    Examples of these criminal organizations would include Islamist groups engaged in smuggling, drug and arms trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, terrorist operations and, in our case, human trafficking.

  16. 16.

    The war directly generated casualties among undocumented migrants, as it was the case in July 2019 when a fighter jet bombed a migrants detention center in Tajoura, next to Tripoli, killing 53 and injuring 130 sub-Saharan migrants (Ganguly 2019).

  17. 17.

    United Nations General Assembly, Intergovernmental Conference for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Marrakech, 10 and 11 December 2018, final document of the conference. https://undocs.org/fr/A/CONF.231/3.

  18. 18.

    One example is the EURODAC system, which is supposed to process all the asylum applications received throughout the European Union through a single file. This system was set up following the signing of the first EU-wide Dublin agreements in 2003. More recently, the so-called “Dublin III” agreements came into force in 2013, allowing the prior registration of the application for refugee status from the Member State where the individual entered the Union. In addition to the differences in the migration reception policies of each European Union member state and the growing ideological opposition between governments, the number of individuals for whom the point of entry into the European Union is Spain, Malta, or Italy also makes compliance with this normative text complex in practice.

  19. 19.

    As the conference “Entre dos Orillas, Migraciones: Causas y Efectos” during which the original presentation that preceded this chapter took place in Laayoune, Morocco.

  20. 20.

    International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) database, CIDPM in French, 2019.

  21. 21.

    As shown throughout this part, there are many issues on which urgent action must be taken: the dangerousness of the road transport of migrants by smugglers in overloaded vehicles, on some of the deadliest roads in the region, the crossing of the Sahara, the confinement in detention centers where living conditions are inhuman, human trafficking, and the risks of sailing across the Mediterranean sea.

  22. 22.

    The information on this program’s title was taken from an internal note of the Institut Afrique Monde Côte d’Ivoire reporting on voluntary return operations of Ivoirian migrants from Tripoli, 2018.

  23. 23.

    Source Migration Data Portal & International Organization for Migration, 2019, Migrant flow, voluntary return, country of origin.

References

  • Barrios, C. (2015). Transit Niger Migrants, Rebels and Traffickers. European Union Institute for Security Studies, 31, 2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bassi, M., & Souiah F. (2019). La violence du régime des frontières et ses conséquences létales: récits et pratiques autour des morts et disparus par migration. Critique internationale, 83(2), 9–19.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beauchemin, C., Kabbanji L, Papa S., & Schoumaker, B. (2013). Migrations africaines: le codéveloppement en questions. Armand Collin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell, S., Alves, S., Silveirinha de Oliveira, E., & Zuin, A. (2010). Migration and Land Use Change in Europe: A Review. Living Reviews in Landscape Research 4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bertrand, M. (2010). Migration internationale et métropolisation en Afrique de l’Ouest. Le cas des Zabrama du Grand Accra, Ghana. Espace populations sociétés. Space populations societies (2010/2–3), 307–320.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourgeon, M., D’Aragon-Giguère, T., & Vallet, E. (2017). Les Flux Migratoires à La Frontière Québéco-Américaine. Quebec Studies, 64, 141–156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brennan, E. M. (1984). Irregular Migration: Policy Responses in Africa and Asia. The International Migration Review, 18(3), 409–425.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brüning, L., & Piguet, E. (2018). Changements environnementaux et migration en Afrique de l’Ouest. Une revue des études de cas. Belgeo. Revue belge de géographie (1).

    Google Scholar 

  • Cavelty, M. D., & Mauer, V. (2009). The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chris, I., & Efe, I. (2018). Migration and the Geopolitics of Boko Haram Terrorism in Nigeria. Strategic Review for Southern Africa, 40(2), 184.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cross, H., & Cliffe, L. (2017). A Comparative Political Economy of Regional Migration and Labour Mobility in West and Southern Africa. Review of African Political Economy, 44(153), 381–398.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Desrousseaux, J. (2019). L’Afrique, terre d’accueil et d’intégration des réfugiés? Géopolitique d’un continent en mutation: l’Afrique émergente? April, 84.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellington, J. M. (2018). Slavery In Libya: A Horrendous Act of Human Rights Abuse. IU South Bend Undergraduate Research Journal, 18, 119–123.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fischer-Herzog, C. (2019). Mettre les migrations au coeur de la coopération entre l’Union EUropénne et l’Afrique. Compte-Rendu. Paris: ASCPE—Les Entretiens Eurafricains.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ganguly, M. (2019, November 6). Foreign Jet Suspected in Libya Migrant Attack. BBC News.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gebrewold, B. (2016). Africa and Fortress Europe: Threats and Opportunities. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gregory, J. W., & Piché, V. (1978). African Migration and Peripheral Capitalism. African Perspectives, 1, 37–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hamro-Drotz, D., & Meith N. (2011). Sécurité des moyens d’existence: changements climatiques, migrations et conflits au Sahel. United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations University, International Organization for Migration, and Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khosa, R. M., & Kalitanyi, V. (2015). Migration Reasons, Traits and Entrepreneurial Motivation of African Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Towards an Entrepreneurial Migration Progression. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 9(2), 132–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirwin, M., & Anderson, J. (2018). Identifying the Factors Driving West African Migration. 17. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kritz, M. M., Lean Lim, L., & Hania Zlotnik, H. (1992). International Migration Systems: A Global Approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuschminder, K., & Triandafyllidou, A. (2020). Smuggling, Trafficking, and Extortion: New Conceptual and Policy Challenges on the Libyan Route to Europe. Antipode, 52(1), 206–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, W. A. (1954). Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour. The Manchester School, 22(2), 139–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lombardo, R. M. (2018). Klaus von Lampe: Organized Crime: Analyzing Illegal Activities, Criminal Structures, and Extra-Legal Governance. Trends in Organized Crime, 21(1), 85–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mandé, I. F. R., & Lemay Langlois, L. (Eds.). (2016). Afrique et développement. Paris: Riveneuve éditions.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mbaye, Linguère M. (2014). ‘Barcelona or Die’: Understanding Illegal Migration from Senegal. IZA Journal of Migration, 3(1), 21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miran-Guyon, M. (2017). Des visages et des routes. Les migrations irrégulières au départ de la Côte d’Ivoire. Afrique contemporaine, 263–264(3–4), 255–57.

    Google Scholar 

  • Molenaar, F. (2017). Irregular Migration and Human Smuggling Networks in Niger. CRU Report. Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moretti, S. (2020). Transit Migration in Niger: Stemming the Flows of Migrants, but at What Cost? Migration and Society, 1(aop), 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Naerssen, T., Spaan, E., & Zoomers, A. (2008). Global Migration and Development. New York and London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakayama, Y. (2017). Migration Governance: Migration within and from Africa, 9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norman, K. P. (2016). Between Europe and Africa: Morocco as a Country of Immigration. The Journal of the Middle East and Africa, 7(4), 421–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • OCDE. (2017). Interactions entre politiques publiques, migrations et développement en Côte d’Ivoire. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • OIM Côte d’Ivoire. (2018). Rapport de profilage des migrants ivoiriens, Mai 2017—Mai 2018. Rapport de Mission. Côte d’Ivoire: Mission de l’OIM en Côte d’Ivoire.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pew Research Center. (2018). Migration From Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe Has Grown Since 2010. Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2018/03/22/at-least-a-million-sub-saharan-africans-moved-to-europe-since-2010/. Accessed 19 April, 2020.

  • Phillip, C. (2018). Migration from Sub-Saharan Africa Grew Dramatically in 2010–2017. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/02/28/international-migration-from-sub-saharan-africa-has-grown-dramatically-since-2010/. Accessed 19 April 2020.

  • Pillant, L. (2019). «Not In My Cemetery». Le traitement des corps de migrants morts à la frontière orientale de la Grèce. Critique internationale, 83(2), 41–59.

    Google Scholar 

  • Raineri, L. (2018). Human Smuggling across Niger: State-Sponsored Protection Rackets and Contradictory Security Imperatives. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 56(1), 63–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Saliqeh, M. J., & Shah Heydar A. K. (2017). The Effect of Immigration on Criminal Phenomena. IAU International Journal of Social Sciences, 7(4), 61–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scipioni, M. (2018). Failing Forward in EU Migration Policy? EU Integration after the 2015 Asylum and Migration Crisis. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(9), 1357–1375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, S. (2019). The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on Its Way to the Old Continent. Medford, MA: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tardis, M. (2019). Le Pacte de Marrakech. Vers Une Gouvernance Mondiale Des Migrations? 1902. Policy Center for the New South.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thielemann, E., & El-Enany, N. (2010). Refugee Protection as a Collective Action Problem: Is the EU Shirking Its Responsibilities? European Security, 19(2), 209–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Todaro, M. P. (1976). Internal Migration in Developing Countries. International Labour Office.

    Google Scholar 

  • UN Data. (2020). UNdata. Country Profile Côte d’Ivoire. https://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx/_Images/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=C%C3%B4te%20d%27Ivoire. Accessed 5 April 2020.

  • United Nations. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights Retrieved https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html. Accessed 5 April 2020.

  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2018). Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants 2018. New York: Union Nations.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Karagueuzian, Ch., & Verdier-Chouchane, A. (2014). Taking Africa’s Irregular Migrants into Account: Trends, Challenges and Policy Options. Africa Economic Brief. Volume 5. African Development Bank Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Véron, J., & Golaz, V. (2015). Can Environmental Migration Be Measured? In G. Pison (Ed.), Population & Societies, 522(5).

    Google Scholar 

  • Wimalaratana, W. (2017). International Migration and Migration Theories. Social Affairs, 1(5), 13–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zagaria, V., & Périer, M. (2019). Une petite histoire au potentiel symbolique fort . La fabrique d’un cimetière de migrants inconnus dans le sud-est tunisien. Critique internationale, 83(2), 61–85.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zlotnik, H. (1987). The Concept of International Migration as Reflected in Data Collection Systems. The International Migration Review, 21(4), 925–946.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicolas Antoine Claude Klingelschmitt .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Klingelschmitt, N.A.C. (2021). Undocumented Migration Dynamics from West Africa to Europe. In: Cedillo González, C., Espín Ocampo, J. (eds) Human Displacement from a Global South Perspective. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64819-0_5

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics