At the edge: trends and routes of North African clandestine migrants

European countries should work with North African states to address the lack of economic opportunity that drives migration.

In 2015, over 16 000 Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans were caught while attempting to migrate to Europe covertly. Though North Africans are a relatively small portion of the masses of clandestine migrants, they are a critical group to understand. They are the innovators and early adopters of new methods and routes for migrant smuggling, such as their pioneering in the 1990s and 2000s of the routes across the Mediterranean that now fuel Europe’s migration crisis. Understanding how and why North Africans migrate, the routes they use, and how these are changing, offers insights into how clandestine migration methods and routes in general may shift in the coming years. In shaping better responses to actual dynamics, it is important for countries to proactively address the chronic conditions that drive forced migration before they generate social instability.

About the author

Matt Herbert is a research fellow with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and leads border-security capacity-building programmes at the Strategic Capacity Group. He has designed and implemented community-sensitive border-management projects in North and West Africa. He is co-author of a 2015 US Institute of Peace study on border security in the Maghreb. He is currently finishing his PhD at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

Picture: ©IOM/Renato Fogal


Other publications in the ISS Migration series:

The Khartoum Process: A sustainable response to human smuggling and trafficking?

The Niger-Libya corridor: smugglers' perspectives

Breathing space: the impact of the EU-Turkey deal on irregular migration

Development partners
This paper was made possible with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The Institute for Security Studies is grateful for support from the other members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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