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Economic Development in Africa: Migration for Structural Transformation

  • International migration in Africa: An overview

In the last 27 years, international migration in Africa has grown rapidly. In 2017, there were about 41 million international migrants from, to, or within Africa. Of these, 19 million resided in Africa, 17 million were resident outside of the continent, and 5.5 million were immigrants from the rest of the world.

Migration in Africa has been characterized by outflows primarily to other countries on the continent, and to some extent to extra-continental destinations. Out-migration is a dominant pattern of international movements in Africa as countries that are net senders exceed net receivers.

Sending countries in 2017

Map showing net sending countries in Africa37 countries in Africa were net migrant-sending countries in 2017. While outflows from these countries were primarily to intra-African destinations, for the top net-sending countries, outflows were to extra-continental destinations.

Egypt (2.9 million), Morocco (2.8 million), Algeria (1.5 million) and Tunisia (700,000) were among the top net sending countries. Other net sending countries in 2017 included Somalia (1.9 million), Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Mali (in descending order).

With economic migration being a key feature of international migration in Africa, the search for economic opportunities is an important driver of mobility in the majority of net sending countries. While distress-push factors, notably, high youth unemployment influence movements from Northern Africa to Europe and the Middle East, demand-pull factors, in particular, employment, trade and investment opportunities in neighbouring economies drive mobility, for instance, from Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire and from Mozambique to South Africa.

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Political instability in Somalia, and conflict in the Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic are important drivers of emigration from these countries on the continent. Climate change and the growing competition for natural resources are also driving migration within the Sahel region, with the distress-push factors influencing movements from Mali and Niger.

Receiving countries in 2017

Map showing net receiving countries in AfricaIn 2017, 17 countries in Africa were key net migrant-receivers. South Africa (3.1 million), Côte d’Ivoire (1.2 million), Uganda (900,000), Libya (629,000), Kenya (577,000), Ethiopia (426,000), Chad (242,000), Gabon (213,000), Cameroon (206,000) and Tanzania (168,000) were the top net receiving countries.

Demand for labour in key economic sectors has been a driver of migration to South Africa (domestic service, mining and construction) and Côte d’Ivoire (agriculture), both of which are hubs on the continent. Similarly, demand for labour in Gabon’s lumber and mining sectors, oil in Equatorial Guinea and in diversified economies such as Kenya, has influenced movements primarily from neighbouring countries to these economies.

Conflict has been a driver of migration to Uganda and Kenya, both of which host a large number of refugees from South Sudan, and to Chad, which hosts refugees primarily from the Sahel region. Cameroon hosts refugees from the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania hosts refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Libya – a top net receiving country, and Mauritania are transit countries that receive migrants en route to Europe primarily from West Africa, and from Eastern Africa.

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Trends in international migration in Africa

Since 2000, international migration in Africa has increased significantly, rising by 67% from 15 million in 2000 to 25 million in 2017 (annual average growth of 2.8 per cent per year). In addition, international migrants as a share of total population in Africa increased from 1.8 per cent in 2000 to 2 per cent in 2017.

  1. In 2017, out of 100 immigrants[1] in Africa, 79 were from Africa.Figure 1
  1. International migration in Africa occurs primarily in the same African region. In 2017, 4 out of 5 international migrants residing in Eastern, Middle and Western Africa were from the same African region, underscoring intra-regional migration’s importance. However, since 1990, intra-regional migration has declined across all African regions.Figure 2
  • Among Africa’s migrants of working age, the proportion aged 25-64 years rose from 49% in 1990 to 57% in 2017. Conversely, the share of young migrants, aged 15-24 years declined from 21 % to 16% during the same period.Figure 3
  1. Female migration is growing in importance in Africa. Since 1990, the number of international female migrants increased from 7.4 million to 11.6 million in 2017. This trend is reflected in the corresponding increase in Africa’s female population, which rose from 318 million in 1990 to 629 million in 2017.Figure 4
  1. At the regional level, trends in female migration vary markedly. International female migrants as a share of the total female population doubled in Southern Africa from 2.5 per cent in 1990 to 5.8 per cent 2017, and rose slightly in Middle Africa. In Northern and Eastern Africa, and to a lesser extent, in Western Africa, international female migration declined during the same period.Figure 5
  1. Africa’s population is projected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050. By then, the continent will have the largest population growth of any global geographical region. In 2050, 25 per cent of the world’s working age population will live in Africa, up from 8 per cent in 1950. Given these demographic projections, the continent will need to generate 55,000 jobs a day according some estimates, in order to absorb the additional labour.Figure 6
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Source: unctad.org

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

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Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  IOM, 200 others to send unified message to victims xenophobia, discrimination caused by Covid 19

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

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“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  50,000 migrants stranded at international borders, quarantine and transit centres in West and North Africa

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

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“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

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IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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