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Quarterly Mixed Migration Updates, April to June 2021

This article presents the key updates on mixed migration from five regions around the world during the second quarter of 2021. Links to the full Quarterly Mixed Migration Updates per region are included below.

 

Latin America and the Caribbean

Key Updates Quarter 2 – 2021

  • More countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Perú, and Brazil initiated or announced strategies to regularize Venezuelans in their territory. In comparison to other countries in the region, Chile’s new immigration law, which came into effect on April 20th, was the most restrictive approach observed in the region as it only provides regularization options for foreign nationals who entered the country through a regular port of entry before March 18th, 2020. Furthermore, the new law introduces expedited deportations to further dissuade irregular entries.
  • Due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, mainly loss of livelihoods, more Venezuelan refugees and migrants return to their country or move onward to a different destination. Between April and June, 178 Venezuelans living in Trinidad and Tobago voluntarily returned to their country, while 7,000 more registered to be repatriated. At the same time U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) mentioned that many Venezuelans who have reached the U.S. southern border this year had previously been living in South American countries and decided to move onward due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Pledge from donors to support response to mixed migration movements out of Venezuela. On June 17th, at least 30 countries around the world confirmed their commitment to fund humanitarian and development initiatives at the International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, by donating 1.5 billion USD – reaching the target of USD 1.44 billion dollars requested in the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan 2021.
  • Increase in arrivals of extra-regional refugees and migrants in Panama. In April alone, 5,818 extra-regional people on the move arrived in the country, mainly from Haiti, followed by Cuba, Africa, and Asia, in comparison to 5,552 arrivals in the first quarter of 2021. In June, immigration authorities registered a 150% increase in arrivals, compared to May, with 11,116 foreign nationals arriving in Panama through Colombia.
  • More refugees and migrants from outside Central America are reaching the U.S southern border CBP registered an increase in the arrival of Venezuelan, Brazilian, and Ecuadorian nationals at the U.S-Mexico border. Media sources also emphasized the arrival of Romanians.
  • Record-breaking number of asylum applications lodged in Mexico. The Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) registered 29,021 asylum applications between April and June. So far this year, Hondurans and Haitians, followed by Cubans, lead the list of those applying for asylum in the country.

Thematic Focus: Climate-induced migration in Latin America and the Caribbean

Read the full QMMU

 

North Africa

Key Updates Quarter 2 – 2021

  • Land and sea arrivals to Italy and Spain from North Africa through the Central (CMR) and Western Mediterranean Routes (WMR) increased by 251% compared to the same period in 2020.
  • Arrivals to Spain include a particularly sharp increase in movements to Ceuta around May 17th – 18th, with estimates suggesting a number of between 8,000 and 12,000 arrivals to the Spanish enclave, amidst political tensions between Morocco and Spain. Of this number of arrivals, it was reported more than 5,000 were pushed back to Morocco from Ceuta during the following days.
  • The trend of an increase in Algerian arrivals to Spain which started in 2020 has continued to sustain, with Algerian media reporting more than 10,000 Algerians arrived in Spain in the first five months of 2021.
  • 8,676 refugees and migrants were intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard in Q2, representing a 266% increase compared to the same period in 2020, and following an 85% increase reported in Q1.
  • 464 refugees and migrants were reported dead or missing, of which 410 were along the CMR and 54 were along the WMR, between April – June 2021.
  • In Q2, reports were published on the challenging conditions in the refugee camps in Eastern Sudan hosting Ethiopian refugees in Tigray, with camps reaching their maximum capacity, new arrivals overstaying their time in transit camps, and the potential of devastating effects tied to the upcoming rainy season.

Thematic Focus: Mixed migration from Morocco to Spain

Read the full QMMU

 

West Africa

Key Updates Quarter 2 – 2021

  • Displacement in Burkina Faso: In the month of April alone, internal displacement in Burkina Faso increased by 71,055 persons, nearly equaling displacement numbers for the entire first quarter of the year, and bringing estimated total internal displacement in the country to 1,218,754.
  • Canary Islands arrivals: Some 3,280 refugees and migrants arrived irregularly by sea to the Canary Islands in the second quarter of the year, according to a compilation of UNHCR’s Spain Weekly Snapshots. This was approximately three times as many arrivals as during the same period of 2020.
  • Deaths at sea along the Atlantic route: IOM documented 250 deaths at sea along the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands during the first half of the year, while estimating that this number is likely a significant undercount.
  • Canary Islands departures: The Canary Islands saw a reduction in the numbers of people accommodated in official camps and reception centers throughout the islands. As of the end of May, this number was estimated at 2,288, compared to 8,000 at the end of December.  This was attributed to an increase in transfers of people with vulnerable profiles to the Spanish mainland, coupled with the lifting of a block on independent travel by refugees and migrants with the necessary documentation.
  • Algeria expulsions to Niger: In his report on pushbacks, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants highlighted the pushbacks occurring from Algeria to Niger, expressing his concern over these “collective expulsions.”

Thematic Focus: Access and use of information by refugees and migrants on the move in West Africa

Read the full QMMU

 

Asia

Key Updates Quarter 2 – 2021

  • COVID-19 restrictions cast continued uncertainty over labor migration from South Asian countries: As the deadly surge of COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant sweeps across South Asia, labor migration grinds to a halt. The future of those who were forced to return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic also remains uncertain.
  • Refugees and migrants across the region struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines: Limited vaccine supplies coupled with large increases in COVID-19 cases have resulted in many Asian countries locking out marginalized groups, including refugees and migrants from accessing the vaccine.
  • Climate change triggers displacement and migration across the region: This quarter saw large-scale displacement across the region as a result of climate change-induced natural disasters including in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and India. Meanwhile, drought continues to significantly affect many in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan.
  • Rising mental health concerns continue for refugees and migrants across the region: Concerns for the mental health wellbeing of refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants continue in Australia and Singapore.
  • Cross-border migration from Myanmar to Thailand and India continues, fueled by the military coup: Myanmar civilians, including those defecting from the security forces, continue attempting to find safety in Thailand and India, sparking warnings that mass migration movements could quickly unfold.
  • A perfect storm for continued crisis in Afghanistan: Intensified violence, conflict, the pandemic, and economic depression are exacerbating existing humanitarian and migration crises in Afghanistan.

Thematic Focus: National insecurity, mass returns, and the drought – A recipe for mass migration from Afghanistan

Read the full QMMU

 

East Africa and Yemen

Key Updates Quarter 2 – 2021

  • Fragile ceasefire declared in Tigray: A fragile ceasefire has been declared in Ethiopia following eight months of violent conflict in the Tigray region. Around 2 million people are internally displaced and more than 63,000 Ethiopians are seeking refuge in Eastern Sudan. 5.5 million are acutely food insecure.
  • Refugee and migrant arrivals in Yemen fall: 1,331 East African refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen between April and May 2021, a 54% decrease compared to the same period in 2020 (2,920).
  • Over 150 migrants feared dead in boat tragedy off Yemen coast: A boat carrying 200 people overturned while on a return journey to the Horn of Africa from Yemen. 25 bodies were recovered by fisherman while more than 150 people are feared to be missing or dead.
  • Spontaneous returns from Yemen continue: Amid multiple reports of boat tragedies in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait between the Horn of Africa and Yemen, 3,474 East Africans return to the Horn from Yemen, 2,845 arrivals in Djibouti and 629 in Somalia.
  • More than 30,000 Ethiopian migrants deported from Saudi Arabia in a span of two weeks: In a ramping up of deportations from Saudi Arabia, 30,078 Ethiopian migrants were deported from the Kingdom between 26 June – 9 July 2021. Tigrayan returnees account for 40% of returns between November 2020 and June 2021.
  • Increasing pushback from Europe to deter refugees and migrants: Denmark and the United Kingdom propose to have asylum seekers transferred to a third country as their applications are processed. Unconfirmed speculations suggest that the third country is Rwanda, after Denmark signed an M.O.U. with Rwanda’s government to address immigration and asylum issues.

Read the full QMMU