Tag Archives: West Africa

DIIS Seminar: Recreating a Borderless West Africa: Migration Management by ECOWAS (Copenhagen, 24 Oct)

The Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) will hold a seminar (English) in Copenhagen on 24 October 2011, 14.00-16.30.  Advance registration is required.  Registration deadline is Friday, 21 October 2011 at 12.00 noon.  Click here for more information.

From the DIIS announcement:  “Historically, migrants have regarded West Africa as a sub-region of free movement. Independence has altered the traditionally borderless migration systems, while recent political and economic crises in formerly labor-importing countries of the sub-region have led to restricted regulations on migration and a series of expulsions. The free movement of persons within the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) community is an enduring achievement of the organization. Targets are set for a community passport and a single monetary zone. This seminar will look closer at the functioning of the ECOWAS secretariat in a context of wavering political support, political instability, inter-state border disputes not to mention increased pressure for migration due to two decades of economic downfall. The focus on migration will increase the understanding of the bottlenecks of an organization that during the first 25 years of existence was largely based on state-to-state relations, but where migration is transforming the traditional linguistic divide between countries that are themselves metamorphosing from immigrant-receiving to transit to migrant-sending countries.

Speakers

Sanoh N’Fally is the Director of Free Movement for ECOWAS under the Office of the Commissioner of Trade, Customs and Free Movement….

Cathrine Withol de Wenden is a Professor at Sciences Politiques in Paris. Her research focuses on the relationship between migration and politics, migration flows, migration policies and citizenship in Europe and in the rest of the world. She is the author of “The Borders and Boundaries of Mobility” in Antoine Pécoud & Paul de gutcheneire (eds), Migrations without Borders: A Global Perspective, (UNESCO/Berghahn, 2007) as well as Atlas of Migration in the World: Refugees or Voluntary Migrants (Autrement, 2005).

Anne Sofie Westh Olsen is a PhD Candidate at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Her current research covers West African migration, both in terms of intra-regional flows and return elite migrants. She is the author of the DIIS working paper Reconsidering West African Migration: Changing focus from European immigration to intra-regional flows.”

Click here for more information.

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DIIS Policy Brief: Europe Fighting Irregular Migration – Consequences of European non-entry policies for West African Mobility

A new Policy Brief from DIIS by Nauja Kleist, “Europe Fighting Irregular Migration – Consequences of European non-entry policies for West African Mobility.”

Abstract: “In collaboration with African countries, the EU is fighting irregular migration to Europe through border control and deportations. However, rather than halting irregular migration, such policies reconfigure mobility flows and make migration routes more dangerous and difficult. The phenomenon of migrants and asylum-seekers crossing the Mediterranean in boats to reach Europe is just one example of this phenomenon.

In this DIIS Policy Brief, Nauja Kleist explores the consequences of EU migration policies and the fight against irregular migration, focusing on West African migration. The overall policy tendency is a differentiation of African migration flows, making mobility easier for educated and privileged groups and more difficult and dangerous for the large majority of migrants. Likewise there is a tendency to conflate migration within Africa – by far the largest and most important aspect of West African migration – with migration towards Europe.

Examining some of the main routes and migration systems between West and North Africa, the brief recommends to ensure evidence-based and context-sensitive migration polices, to carefully consider the human and politics costs of externalizing border control, and to ensure further access to legal and safe migration.”

Click here for full document.

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Filed under Analysis, Eastern Atlantic, ECOWAS, European Union, Frontex, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Reports, Senegal, Spain

UNODC Report: The Role of Organized Crime in the Smuggling of Migrants from West Africa to the EU

UNODC released a report on 30 May: The Role of Organized Crime in the Smuggling of Migrants from West Africa to the European Union.  From the UNODC web page: “… The new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) investigates the involvement of organized criminal groups in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa towards the European Union (EU).  The involvement of organized crime in the smuggling of migrants is a sensitive and controversial issue in West African countries, as the report discusses at various points. The publication contributes to better understand the underlying mechanisms and actors involved in this criminal process as a basis for policy reforms in countries affected.

Information in the report was compiled by a team of researchers from West Africa and Europe using both documentary studies and field research conducted in Mali, the Niger, Nigeria and Spain. …  UNODC, as guardian of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, possesses specific expertise and experience that could be put at the service of all countries affected to support them in matters linked to prevention, legislation, operations or prosecution.”

From the Report’s Summary:  “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the European Union-funded ‘Law enforcement capacity-building to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants in the ECOWAS region and Mauritania (Impact)’, undertook to investigate the role played by organized criminal groups in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe.

The present report is aimed primarily at decision makers, law enforcement and judicial officials, but also at a wider audience interested in irregular migration. It contributes to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms and actors involved in this criminal process as a basis for policy reforms in the West African countries concerned.  This report was prepared through desk and field research, conducted in Mali, Morocco, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Spain. Interviews were conducted with over 200 people in Africa and Europe belonging to three main groups: migrants, national authorities and non-governmental organizations, and smugglers.

Four main findings can be mentioned:

• Transnational organized criminal groups are generally involved in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe. However, there are important differences among them in terms of specialization and professionalism. With regard to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of non-African irregular migrants, criminal groups are clearly well organized and structured, and keep close contacts with operatives in several countries. On the other hand, other would-be migrants in West Africa have to deal with loose networks that are not permanently structured. Various groups of actors usually collaborate for one particular operation, and there are no exclusive relationships between those criminal groups.

• Specialization and the building of transnational criminal networks usually come as a result of increased efficiency in border interdiction. Within West Africa, freedom of movement gives little incentive, if any, to engage in the smuggling of migrants. However, the situation changes when there are natural obstacles, such as the sea, or man-made obstacles, such as surveillance

• In most cases, smugglers are migrants themselves. Realizing that their knowledge acquired through (often painful) experience may be used by other migrants in exchange for remuneration, some migrants decide to enter the business of smuggling of migrants. They may then become specialized professional smugglers, or they use their knowledge to finance the completion of their journey to Europe.

• Irregular migrants generally do not see themselves as victims, and smugglers do not see themselves as criminals. A complex relationship exists between irregular migrants and smugglers. The latter have an interest in maintaining the flow and feeding youngsters with dreams of success. These dreams are also kept alive in some West African countries by families and circles where important social value is attached to those who decide to leave, as well as by those who have made it to Europe, be it legally or illegally, even though their situation in Europe is often worse than it was at home….”

Click here for Report.

Click here for article on UNDOC web page.

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Filed under Analysis, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Niger, Reports, Senegal, Spain, United Nations, UNODC

Europol 2011 Organised Crime Threat Assessment – Illegal Immigration and THB

Europol just issued its 2011 Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) (OCTA_2011-1).  The report contains Europol’s assessments regarding “current and expected trends in organised crime affecting the European Union.”  Among the topics discussed are the facilitation of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.

The report notes that the increased control of the external borders of the EU, combined with other immigration controls, has resulted in irregular migrants turning to organised crime groups to facilitate their entry to the EU.  The report notes that increased enforcement activities which successfully reduce illegal immigration in certain areas may result in substantial increases in illegal immigration in other areas.

The report indicates that organised criminal groups are exploiting and will continue to exploit the social and political unrest in North Africa and that organised crime groups are responsible for facilitating the movement of the thousands of Tunisians who have entered Italy.

The report notes that the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen zone “may yield increased illicit traffic through these countries and the possible displacement of illegal immigration flows from the Turkish-Greek border.”

Excerpts from the 38 page report pertaining to the facilitation of illegal immigration:

“[I]ncreasing control of external borders, the introduction of higher quality travel documents and other protective measures implemented by destination countries are making illegal immigration more difficult for individual migrants, forcing them to seek the services of organised crime groups.

International agreements and coordinated law enforcement activities have a significant impact on the flows of illegal immigrants along established routes. In 2010, a sharp reduction in the use of sea routes was accompanied by a substantial increase in illegal overland entries, overwhelmingly concentrated on the Turkish-Greek border.

Besides being the natural gateway for immigrants from the Middle East and Asia, Turkey is now the final step towards the EU for migrants with many other origins, including North and West Africans. Its geographical position, the presence of historical smuggling routes and the comparative ease with which entry visas may be obtained have transformed Turkey into the main nexus point for illegal immigrants on their way to Europe.

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Legislation aimed at safeguarding certain inalienable individual or social rights is manipulated by organised crime groups with specialist expertise. Political asylum requests, and family reunions following marriages of convenience with EU citizens, are among the most frequently abused procedures. In addition, a prevalent tactic is to exploit loopholes and the lack of harmonisation in current legislation.

[***]

Criminal Groups

Organised crime groups involved in the facilitation of illegal immigrants tend to be structured in loose networks of smaller groups with ethnic or other cultural connections to customers. By the same token, illegal immigrants tend to be recruited by, or approach facilitators from, the same ethnic background. However, few criminal groups have the capacity to manage all stages from source to destination country. The further migrants get from their country of origin, the greater the chance that their facilitators will be of an ethnic origin different from their own. Along the route, small local criminal groups receive and house transiting illegal immigrants, facilitating their passage to the next stage. In the often extended time between stages, transiting migrants are frequently exploited in illicit labour, thus marking a point of contact between illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings (THB).

Organised crime groups in destination countries play a fundamental role in the smuggling of migrants. Criminals, often legitimately resident in the EU, facilitate the last step of the migrants’ journey, in some cases collecting final instalments of transportation fees, and are in an ideal position to profit from newly arrived migrants, sometimes employing forms of exploitation typical of THB.

The most widely reported organised crime groups involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration are of Chinese, Turkish, Albanian, Indian, Iraqi, and Russian origin. Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, and some West African groups are among the most capable, managing all successive phases of illegal immigration from source to destination countries. Although these groups may sub-contract part of the transportation or the production of falsified documents, they maintain effective control over the illegal immigrants throughout.

The growing importance of Turkey as a nexus point for migrants is likely to be further exploited by Turkish organised crime groups already extremely skilled in managing routes for illicit commodities and will make the most of their resources and contacts in the EU to maximise profits from this lucrative criminal market….

[***]

Criminal hubs

Political and legislative initiatives impact on regional dynamics, resulting in frequent shifts between hubs and preferred nexus points outside the EU.

Migrant flows across the Mediterranean Sea and illicit entries at the Eastern land borders have both significantly decreased. Greece is now the focus for illegal entry to the EU, and while levels of illegal migration connected with seasonal work patterns between Albania and Greece have decreased in the last year, illicit entries of migrants from Turkey have increased by over 500 per cent between 2009 and 2010

The South East criminal hub is therefore under the heaviest pressure. As a result also of its proximity to the Western Balkans, the hub’s centre of gravity for this criminal problem is currently Greece.

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The Southern criminal hub is a landing zone for many immigrants who have entered the EU through Greece, and who either remain in Italy or proceed to other MS. Illegal immigrants are often exploited or employed by organised crime groups active in the hub.

Emerging and Future Issues

The social and political unrest pervading North Africa since January 2011 is likely to have a significant impact on the internal security of Southern Europe. By exploiting the present political vacuum and the diminution of police capability to maintain public order and combat criminal activity, organised crime groups are facilitating several thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly of Tunisian origin, in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. This carries an inherent risk to the internal security of the EU.

The large and growing number of illegal immigrants from countries and regions in which Islamist terrorist groups are active – such as Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia – raises the possibility that channels for illegal immigration will be used increasingly by those seeking to engage in terrorist activity in the EU.

In the absence of any significant harmonisation of standards with regards to visa issue for a variety of purposes (including settlement for marriage and family reunions) a further increase in the abuse of legitimate migration procedures is likely.

The possible accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Zone will greatly widen the Eastern green and blue borders. This has the potential to release the pressure on the Turkish-Greek border, and lead to increased targeting of Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast by illegal immigrants and their facilitators.

Turkish organised crime groups, currently in a dominant position at the biggest nexus point for migrants, will exploit further opportunities for delivering illegal immigrants to the EU by means of the Black Sea and the flourishing Turkish diaspora in Bulgaria….

[***]

… The role of the Western Balkans as a logistical hub will be sustained and may even grow further, while the proposed accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen zone may yield increased illicit traffic through these countries and the possible displacement of illegal immigration flows from the Turkish-Greek border. In this event, Member States in South East Europe may require additional operational support. In light of the continued prominence throughout the EU of Albanian speaking criminal groups, strategic and operational partnerships with authorities in the Western Balkans will be increasingly important.

Ongoing political instability in countries close to the borders of the EU and transit areas for illicit commodities has the potential to alter trafficking routes and create new illegal migration flows. In countries such as Tunisia and Egypt the process by which serving regimes are replaced may result in power and investment vacuums in both the public and private sectors. Some of these could be filled by those with sufficient resources to exploit the instability for criminal ends, including EU organised crime groups. In politically fragile environments organised crime can also prosper by providing essential services such as transport infrastructure, and food and fuel supply. The effects of illegal immigration as a result of instability in North Africa – already experienced by Italy – are likely to spread if levels of unrest persist or increase. Should living conditions deteriorate in the longer term, the EU is likely to see an increase also in victims of THB from this region….

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Click on this link OCTA_2011-1 for OCTA report.

Click here for Europol press release.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Analysis, Black Sea, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Mediterranean, News, Reports

España ha destinado al menos un 5% de la ayuda en África Occidental a control de fronteras e intereses comerciales

A new report from Entreculturas and Alboan:

“Casi 25 millones de euros de un total de 466 es la Ayuda Oficial al Desarrollo destinada a países de África Occidental cuestionada por contribuir más a intereses de la política de migraciones que al desarrollo humano y lucha contra la pobreza durante el periodo 2004-2008. Es una de las conclusiones del informe “Políticas de control migratorio y de cooperación al desarrollo entre España y África Occidental durante la ejecución del primer Plan África” presentado por Entreculturas y Alboan….”

Resumen: “En el marco de la coherencia de políticas a favor del desarrollo, y con el objetivo de investigar si la cooperación bilateral española está condicionada por intereses de control de los flujos migratorios, las ONG Alboan y Entreculturas presentan el informe Políticas de control migratorio y de cooperación al desarrollo entre España y África Occidental durante la ejecución del primer Plan África que analiza el destino de la ayuda oficial al desarrollo (AOD). España  durante los años 2004 – 2008 ha destinado 25 millones de euros de AOD a proyectos que tienen más relación con el control de fronteras e intereses comerciales que con el desarrollo humano y lucha contra la pobreza. Esto supone un 5,2% de del total de la ayuda de AOD bilateral en África Occidental.”

Click here (ES) or here (ES) for full report.

Click here (ES) for news article.

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Filed under Eastern Atlantic, ECOWAS, News, Reports, Spain, Senegal

Le Temps d’Algérie: Les maffias de l’immigration clandestine en Afrique de l’ouest se tournent vers le narcotrafic

“Les ministres de l’Intérieur des pays d’Afrique occidentale se réunissent aujourd’hui [14 février] à Dakar avec leurs homologues de France et d’Espagne pour examiner la délicate question de l’ouverture, dans cette région située dans le prolongement direct du Sahel, d’une «nouvelle route» spécialisée dans le narcotrafic. … Cette région était jusque-là considérée, exclusivement, comme la «route» de l’immigration clandestine vers l’Europe. … Près de 40 000 Subsahariens ont pu atteindre les côtes espagnoles. Mais le dispositif mis en place par l’Espagne dès 2007, avec le concours les unités du Frontex …a sensiblement découragé ce phénomène. Cette «route» a progressivement cessé d’être rentable pour ces maffias de l’immigration clandestine en Afrique de l’Ouest. … Les maffias de l’immigration clandestine auraient alors choisi de se tourner vers une activité plus risquée mais beaucoup plus rentable, le narcotrafic.”

Cliquez ici pour l’article complet.

Cliquez ici pour un autre article: “Lutte contre la drogue en Afrique de l’ouest : La France met sa marine à la disposition de la sous-région.”

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Filed under Eastern Atlantic, France, News, Senegal, Spain