African-Europe Irregular Migration: The Role Of States And The African Union

Project and Seminar Material Under International Law and Diplomacy

African-Europe Irregular Migration: The Role Of States And The African Union


The study examined the African-Europe irregular migration: the role of states and the African union using united nation office in Nigeria as a study. The study employed the survey design and the purposive sampling technique to select 450 workers. A well-constructed questionnaire, which was adjudged valid and reliable, was used for collection of data from the respondents. The data obtained through the administration of the questionnaires was analyzed using the Pearson analysis.

The results revealed that: Africa- Europe irregular migration has an impact on the economy of Africa. The migratory policies of both Africa and Europe towards mitigating irregular migration are potent. EU played a role in African-Europe Irregular Migration.

The study hereby concluded that African-Europe irregular migration was positive due to the role of States and the African union. The study suggested: African union and united nation should focus more on the possibility of regular Africa- Europe migration; African union and united nation should review the migratory policies of both Africa and Europe and make African more favorable; African union, united nation and EU should work towards fair dealing between the two continents; African union, united nation and EU need to fully utilize fast information tracker to save retrieval time, allow maximum communication, low errors, low costs, and timely access to information; African union, united nation and EU need to be positive when it comes to passing information for processes improvement; African union, united nation and EU need to upgrade and use the existing information servers as a mode of passing quick and easy information to the world; They need to maintain statuesque within the two continents so they will feel recognised.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

African states are confronted with many challenges with the issue of irregular migration taking the lead (Hein, 2018). This major issue has become so recurring that news of African youths drowning in the Mediterranean Sea has become prevalent. Irregular migration is dangerous, desperate, and illegal journeys, often embarked on by youths from poor and war-torn countries through the Mediterranean Sea to the advanced countries of the world for greener pastures (Hein, 2018).

The unprecedented occurrences of this very phenomenon are believed to be more common with the African youths who embark on these journeys without considerations for their lives (Mbaye, 2014). These African youths move in droves to catch up with the imaginary greener pasture, which is believed to be in different parts of Europe and the advanced world in the hope of a better life (Mbaye, 2014). The journeys are more devastating not only because of the vicious way the occurrences are happening and the ill considerations that the youths actually have for their lives but also because of the desperation to succeed in the journey, no matter the outcomes of the dangerous means used to arrive (Mbaye, 2014). These youths pass through the high seas using unsafe boats and dinghies. The risky nature of the journey has often resulted in the capsizing and sinking of boats, with most of the occupants’ bodies floating on the seas. The African countries that have been most hit include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Libya, South Sudan, Tunisia, Mali, Senegal Nigeria and the Gambia. In these countries, the trafficking of immigrants to Europe has become more lucrative and disturbing than drug trafficking (Hall, 2010). But many illegal migrants die during the journey and most of them who do not get asylum get deported to Africa, only to start from square one, if at all that opportunity exists.

Europe has long been a favoured destination for African migrants due to its geographic proximity and the promise of safety and a better life. Europe’s history has been influenced by migration. According to Hall (2010) for centuries, merchants, craftsmen and intellectuals crossed the continent to practice their trades or start new lives. On the other hand, millions emigrated from Europe first to the colonies and later to the Americas and the Antipodes. However, Africa’s irregular migration across Europe has largely increased over time, given the contemporary economic downturn and lack of jobs for youths in the continent.

This irregular movement poses a serious threat to both African and western European states (Hall, 2010). To the sending country, it reduces the number of both skilled and unskilled labour force, which in turn affects productivity and sustainable development and to the receiving countries of Europe, it poses a serious challenge in terms of security, migrant control, camping them in designated quarters, catering for their welfare until they are let go into the wider world of Europe, where they face challenges of survival in a society markedly different from what they used to know back home in Africa. This has caused many African youths to be ‘stranded’ in different parts of Western Europe (Spinthourakis, 2011). Yet the number of economic migrants has swelled along with the number of political refugees, overwhelming Europe’s ability to process and accommodate the new arrivals. All of this activity (and more) has been concentrated in relatively few places where high demands for entry by land and sea into Europe have created a sense of continuing crisis.

Migration can be legal or regular, when the migrant fulfils the necessary immigration regulations or has the authorization required to enter, stay or work in a country. It can also be illegal or irregular. The IOM (2011) describes irregular migration as the movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries. From the perspective of the destination country, it is entry, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations. From the perspective of the sending country, the irregularity is seen in cases in which a person crosses an international boundary without a valid passport or travel document or does not fulfill the administrative requirements for leaving their country (IOM, 2011). Consequently, the current research will concentrate on the role of states and African union in handling African-Europe irregular migration.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The issue of African-Europe irregular migration has generated a lot of literature from scholars who have written extensively on this phenomenon. Their works highlighted the nature and consequences of irregular migrations from Africa to Europe. Furthermore, Kohnert (2017) clarifies some of the misconceptions surrounding the illegal migration of Africans to Europe and argues that this illegal phenomenon is not detrimental to the Europe economy; rather it boosts the economy through the provision of cheap labour by the illegal migrants.

Other studies indicates that the major factor pushing the Senegalese youths out of Senegal is the economic factor and the great expectations which they have about Europe. Mbaye (2014) reveal the characteristics of illegal migrants by using a sample of individuals coming illegally from Africa to Italy in 2003 while Mbow & Tamba (2017) document the profile of illegal migrants coming specifically from Senegal. Fall (2014) argues that the major factor behind illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa is probably hinged on the enforcement of border controls in the Spanish enclaves and other transition countries. Hein (2018) clarifies some misconceptions surrounding irregular migrations from West Africa to the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt) and Europe and argues that most youths from sub-Saharan Africa who embarked on this journey ended up staying in the Maghreb countries dashing the previous notion that they were transiting to Europe from North Africa. Considering the worrisome nature of this scenario, the current research attempts to examine the role of states and African union on Africa- Europe irregular migration.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study to examine the role of states and African union on Africa- Europe irregular migration while the following are the specific objectives:

  1. To assess the impact of Africa- Europe irregular migration on the economy of Africa.
  2. To analyze the impact of Africa- Europe irregular migration on the economy of Europe.
  3. To examine the migratory policy of both Africa and Europe towards mitigating irregular migration.
  4. To investigate the role of EU in African-Europe Irregular Migration.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the impact of Africa- Europe irregular migration on the economy of Africa?
  2. What is the impact of Africa- Europe irregular migration on the economy of Europe?
  3. What are the migratory policies of both Africa and Europe towards mitigating irregular migration?
  4. What are the roles of EU in African-Europe Irregular Migration?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings from this study will educate the government and policy makers in Africa and the general public on the role of African states in mitigating African-Europe irregular migration. It will also reveal the impact of this irregular migration on the economies of Africa and Europe. Results will also evaluate the immigration policies of both countries.

This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of role of African states in mitigating African-Europe irregular migration, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

1.6 Scope of the study

This study will cover the role of countries of Africa in addressing the issue of African-Europe irregular migration. It will cover the impact of African-Europe irregular migration on the economies of both continents.

1.7 Research Methodology

Methodology is part of the research that shows the ways and approaches of collecting the data (Oliver, 2004). This research is primarily qualitative as it is based on the role of African states in mitigating African-Europe irregular migration. The reason for choosing the qualitative analysis strategy is the exploratory and the qualitative nature of study. According to Robson (1993), flexibility is always the main strength of the case study strategy in terms of interpretation and getting access to the specified places. The research is a based on secondary data. We used document analysis/content analysis as main method of data collection. Document analysis/content analysis also called “textual analysis” (Travers, 2001) in the study will include all kinds of academic articles, textual and multi-media products, ranging from television programmes to web sites on the internet

Sources of Data

In the course of research for this work relevant data and information were obtained from the main sources. These were primary and secondary source.

Secondary sources which were utilized in the course of the research for this work from archival research. Material was consulted at the National Library, Benin City, Edo State. They include report on role of African states in mitigating African-Europe irregular migration and other documents relating to this works.

Secondary source which consulted in some university and public libraries across the country include textbooks, journals and periodicals information obtained from primary sources. These sourced helped to provide data and information relating to role of African states in mitigating African-Europe irregular migration.

1.8 A history of Africa-Europe and Europe Africa migration

Although the incidence of trans‐national migration remained about the same on a global scale since the 19th century, its structure and direction changed significantly (Frontex, 2015). Whereas Europe was known as source of waves of large scale outmigration up to the early 20th century, trends were reversed after World War II. The rate of immigration in highly industrialized Western European countries has accelerated significantly in the past decades. Mostly undocumented Africans constitute a growing proportion of these immigrants. There are well founded reasons to belief that this tendency will accelerate, as Sub‐Saharan Africa has probably a higher potential for immigration into the EU than any other region of the World (Frontex, 2015).

All of the twenty least developed countries (LLDCs) are African, and more than half of them belong to crisis torn Western Africa, which in the 1990s gained the doubtful reputation of degenerating into the Pandora box of the continent, situated relatively close to West European borders. Some experts even belief that population movements from Africa could evolve into one of the largest in world history in the medium and long run (Frontex, 2015). Therefore, politicians of all sides concerned are well advised to take this development more serious than in the past.

However, experts and politicians alike are deeply divided over responsibilities and the best concepts for analysing or for solving the problem. Even in scholarly literature, several myths about underlying factors and structures of African migration persist. Migration from Africa is a reflection of its socio‐economic dynamics over time6. In the past decades the number of refugees from conflict regions in Africa increased dramatically. Between 1993 and 2002, the population of 27 out of 53 African states suffered from violent conflicts.

At the end of 2005 some 18% of all African migrants were refugees. This proportion is far above the global average, as African refugees constitute about one third of the global refugee population. This may explain, why nearly half (47%) of the 16.7m. cross‐border migrants in Africa in 2005 were women and children. Above figures explicitly disregard some 13m. additional internally displaced people, as well as a considerable number of seasonal migrants, who would have accentuated the problem even more. But even most of the transnational migrants remain in neighbouring African countries, overwhelmingly (42%) in Western Africa (IOM, 2015).

Apart from push factors, like violent conflicts, gross human rights violations, population pressure, degradation of natural resources, and poverty, the major part of current migration is due to external pull factors.

Notably young people, threatened by unemployment and lack of perspectives in their home country, are eager to try their luck in what may appear to them at first sight as their El Dorado, i. e. Western Europe. Many of them struggle to reach it, in utter disregard of the involved risks, by all means, mostly illegally. But let there be no misunderstanding, the extreme African poor do not even dispose of this alternative, as migration to overseas destinations involves considerable cost, which can be covered in many cases only with contributions by the extended family (e. g. 800 to 1,200 € per person for the transit from the Senegalese coast to the Canary Islands), good health condition, a minimum amount of risk tolerance, and embeddedness in viable trans‐national social networks.

Most African migrants with overseas destinations live in Europe. According to 2005 estimates of the International Organization on Migration (IOM), there are about 4.6m. recorded Africans living in the EU, compared with 890,000 in the USA. The major reasons for this unequal distribution are the comparative advantages with relation to transfer cost, and the established cultural and socio‐economic links of African Diasporas to the former colonial powers, England, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Italy. According to IOM‐census figures about two‐thirds of Africans in Europe are from Northern Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). A smaller, but steadily increasing part arrived from Sub‐Saharan Africa (SSA).

According to estimates of the Migration Policy Institute, there are some seven to eight million irregular African immigrants living in the EU, mostly in its Southern parts. The actual number fluctuates in accordance with the regularisation programs of member states, notably of France, and more recently of Italy and Spain (Cerna, 2013). However, many of the officially recognized migrants fall back into illegality when their limited visas expire or if they fail to meet other conditions for recognizing their legal status.

1.9 Operational definition of terms


Movement of people from one region to another for survival

Irregular Migration:

Movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries

1.10 Outline

This research is organized into five different chapters. The first chapter, which is the general introduction, forms the preliminary aspect of the work. It familiarizes potential readers with the whole work and constitutes a foundational framework upon which the entire work is built. The chapter contains background of the study, the research problem, objectives of the study, research question(s), significance(s) of the study, methodology and the scope of the study.

Chapter two of this project presents the literature review. This is where past studies that are related, relevant and applicable to the present study are appraised. It contains the introduction, theoretical framework and empirical review.

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