IOM Report – Southward Migration from East Africa and the Horn Towards the RSA (Reports)

Blog - IOM report cover southward migrationWhile slightly off topic from this blog’s primary focus (northward migration from Africa towards Europe), IOM released a substantial study of the irregular migration of men from East Africa and the Horn of Africa towards the Republic of South Africa.

In Pursuit of the Southern Dream: Victims of Necessity: Assessment of the irregular movement of men from East Africa and the Horn to South Africa

Some excerpts follow:

“[T]his research illuminates, for the first time, the scope and nature of irregular migration and human smuggling of men from East Africa and the Horn towards South Africa.

“Of the countries relevant to this study, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have not signed the UN Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Smuggling Protocol. Kenya, Malawi and Zambia acceded to, or ratified, the protocol in 2005, while Mozambique ratified it in 2006. RSA signed the protocol in December 2000 and ratified the same in 2004.5 However, there is a need to reflect the protocol in national legislation and implement this protocol for it to be effective.

“For some migrants, arrival in RSA is the start of a long-cherished dream; for many more, it is a step in a process that they hope will result in admittance to Europe or North America via similar means.

“This report also emphasizes that irregular migrants should no longer be perceived as perpetrators of criminal acts. Instead, they should be provided proper protection in line with international law, and the penal focus should be on those who smuggle and abuse migrants. The corruption and complicity associated with these irregular movements result in great profit to smugglers, and allegations of official corruption must be addressed more seriously.

“Marginalizing human rights – Soon after the creation of what are known as the UN Smuggling Protocol and the UN Trafficking Protocol (Palermo Protocol), the former trafficking adviser to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) warned that there was a risk of human rights being marginalized. The reasoning was that these protocols (which are supplements to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the second attempts to address trafficking in persons) were not developed as human rights tools, but in response to a growing international concern to curb trafficking and smuggling crimes. This concern, not surprisingly, was felt most urgently by destination countries, where a “growing intolerance of all forms of irregular migration” was increasing, making it progressively more difficult to give priority to individuals and their rights in the debate.

“The alternatives to direct air travel are: a combination of limited air travel with additional road travel, a combination of boat and road travel, or the most common choice, which is overland travel the entire way. In many cases, migrants must walk certain stretches of the smuggled journey – in some cases for many days at a time.  The impression gained during the study was of a scenario in which the smugglers were continually assessing the success and viability of these four modes of travel (air, boat, vehicle and foot). Because of the flexibility of the network, the mode of transport and the routes used can be altered on short notice, depending on circumstances.

“The role of sea travel  Travel to RSA by sea is relatively common for the Somali and Ethiopian irregular migrant. It is unknown for Kenyans and slightly more common for a limited number of Tanzanians who have been known to stow themselves away on ships between Dar es Salaam and RSA’s eastern ports (Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth).

“A significant number of the 293 irregular migrants whose data was captured through in-depth interviews for this study did travel by boat. An average of 33 per cent of all Somali and Ethiopian respondents described a sea voyage as part of their journey to RSA. In many cases, the voyage passed without incident and lasted a few days, but the vessels were overloaded and, being primitive trading dhows, had neither rescue equipment nor any facility to protect passengers from sun or storm. The respondents also mentioned that they usually were given neither food nor water throughout the trip.

“The respondents in this study travelled by boat along the following routes:

• From Mogadishu (Somalia) to Mombasa (Kenya)

• From Kismayo (Somalia) to Mombasa (Kenya)

• From Mombasa (Kenya) to Pemba or Mocimboa (Mozambique)

• From Mombasa (Kenya) to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)

• From Mombasa (Kenya) to Tanga or Mtwara (Tanzania)

• From Shimoni and Funzi Island (Kenya) to Tanga, Bagamoyo or Pangani (all in Tanzania)

“Blaming neighbours – Many of the countries involved in this study are troubled by the number of irregular migrants passing through their territory. They see this trespassing as a threat to their state security and an infringement of their immigration laws and border controls. In their frustration with a problem that appears intractable and growing, it was common during the course of the study to hear government officials criticize the inadequate policies of neighbouring countries: “Compared to ten years ago, the increase of Somalis and Ethiopians is visible and significant. South Africa complains that Mozambique is too liberal, but the problem is Tanzania and Kenya, who are far too lax,” stated one refugee official in Maputo, Mozambique. The same criticism was heard in Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya, where officials blamed other transit countries or origin countries for their own problems with irregular migrants.

“While further legislative review of the relevant laws and policies regarding smuggling in all relevant countries is required, it can already be said that the status offered to irregular migrants by different countries (whether they can apply for asylum or refugee status, etc.) and the level of criminalization of irregular migrants and of leniency towards smugglers contribute to a regional environment of disharmony. It is a disharmony that appears to work towards the direct benefit of the smuggling networks that exploit it and is currently expanding their trade. It is a disharmony that appears to call out for regional review and re-appraisal if a solution to controlling migrant flows and border management is to be found.”

Click here for more information about the report.

Click here for the full report.

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Filed under East Africa - Western Indian Ocean, Reports

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