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Quarterly Mixed Migration Updates, October to December 2021

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

Latin America and the Caribbean | North Africa | West Africa | East Africa and Yemen | Asia


Latin America and the Caribbean

Key Updates Quarter 4 – 2021

  • After four consecutive months of decreasing encounters with people on the move at the US-Mexico border, in November the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has reported a 5% increase since the previous month. The number of Venezuelans arriving at the border has been steadily increasing for months. In October alone, CBP reported encounters with 13,406 Venezuelans – a 9,000% increase compared to the same month the previous year. In mid-November, CBP reported nearly 800 encounters daily with Venezuelan nationals. Due to the increase of Brazilian and Venezuelan nationals arriving at the US border in 2021, Mexico introduced a visa requirement for Brazilians to enter its territory in November and is considering tightening entry restrictions for Venezuelans.
  • Some Haitian refugees and migrants who were deported back to Port-au-Prince after trying to enter the US are now returning by air to Chile or Brazil, their first migration destination. Additionally, following mass expulsions from the US in September, less Haitians have been attempting to migrate toward this country: from September to October, the CBP reported a sharp decrease in Haitian nationals arriving at the US border – from more than 17,000 to about 1,000.
  • Five migrant caravans departed from Tapachula, in southern Mexico between October and December heading toward Mexico City to regularize their stay in Mexico and continue their journey to the US. However, most caravans dissolved after reaching an agreement with the country’s migration authority and accepting humanitarian visas to stay in Mexico.
  • Following domestic lawsuits and a new agreement with Mexico, the US reactivated the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as “Remain in Mexico”. Under this policy, people on the move who apply for asylum at the US southern border must wait in Mexican territory until a decision is taken on their asylum application. Although this caused concerns among human rights organizations, the Mexican government committed to protecting asylum seekers who are temporarily staying in Mexico under the MPP and guaranteeing their safety and rights while in the country.

Thematic Focus: Human smuggling across the US southern border

Read the full QMMU

 

North Africa

Key Updates Quarter 4 – 2021

  • Land and sea arrivals to Italy, Malta and Spain from North Africa through the Central (CMR) and Western Mediterranean Routes (WMR) were comparable in numbers to the same period in 2020, increasing by 1%.
  • 32,425 refugees and migrants were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) and returned to Libya in 2021. This marks an increase of 173% compared to 2020 (11,891).
  • According to local media sources, the Moroccan authorities intercepted more than 12,000 refugees and migrants (on land and at sea) in 2021, while allegedly also dismantling around 150 smuggling networks.
  • 543 refugees and migrants were reported dead or missing in Q4, of which 437 were along the CMR and 106 along the WMR (IOM). This marks a slight increase from 492 in the same period in 2020.
  • The United Nations (UN) announced the resumption of humanitarian flights out of Libya in October, including UNHCR evacuations of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers and IOM voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) flights.
  • In the week of October 1st, as the UN reported, the Libyan authorities began conducting a large-scale ‘‘security operation’’ in Tripoli, arresting at least 5,000 refugees and migrants and placing them in overcrowded detention centres. This triggered demonstrations in front of UNHCR’s Community Day Centre, which reportedly closed for a couple of days as a result, and closed its door permanently in December (also see Thematic Focus).

Thematic Focus: Migrant detention in Libya

Read the full QMMU

 

West Africa

Key Updates Quarter 4 – 2021

  • Nigerian refugees in Niger’s Tahoua region: Violence by groups of armed bandits in the vicinity of Sabon Birni in Nigeria’s Sokoto state spurred 11,500 Nigerians to flee to Niger’s Tahoua region in November. They joined 3,500 other Nigerian refugees in the region who had been there since September.
  • Voluntary repatriation to Côte d’Ivoire: Some 17,118 people were repatriated to Côte d’Ivoire from neighboring countries, mainly Liberia, from the beginning of October through 23 December.  Increased repatriations coincided with the decision by UNHCR to end refugee status for people from Côte d’Ivoire, which will take effect at the end of June 2022.
  • Cross border displacement from Cameroon: An estimated 100,000 people from the Far North region of Cameroon arrived in Chad in December following clashes between herders and fishermen related to competition over scarce water. The overwhelming majority of these refugees were women and children.
  • Canary Islands arrivals and deaths in 2021: The Atlantic Route continued its prominence in 2021, with approximately 22,316 arrivals in the Canary Islands, very similar to the total for 2020 (23,023). However, the number of deaths on this route was higher than in 2020, with estimates ranging from 955 to 4,404 (compared to 850 to 2,170 in 2020).
  • Expulsions from Algeria to Niger: According to the NGO Alarme Phone Sahara, in the fourth quarter of 2021 approximately 6,647 refugees and migrants were expelled from Algeria to Niger. Alarme Phone Sahara estimates that 25,396 refugees and migrants were expelled from Algeria to Niger in 2021, an increase over the 2021 estimate of 22,631.
  • High Commissioner for Human Rights in Niger: In remarks made at the conclusion of her visit to Niger in December, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over mistreatment and expulsion of refugees and migrants into Niger on the part of neighboring countries. She also emphasized that the human rights of migrants and refugees must be upheld in all circumstances, even while seeking to combat human trafficking and smuggling, and stated the support of the UN for revising Niger’s Law 2015-36 on the smuggling of migrants.

Thematic Focus: Sexual and Reproductive Health and youth refugees and migrants in urban centers

Read the full QMMU

 

Asia

Key Updates Quarter 4 – 2021

  • Iran steps up deportations of Afghans: According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of deportations of Afghans from Iran as of the end of November 2021 was 30 percent higher than the total number of deportations in 2020, with an average of 20-30,000 Afghans being sent back on a weekly basis.
  • Escalation in violence and poverty triggers more displacement and migration in Myanmar: Since 1 February, more than more than 320,000 people were displaced and some 22,000 people were forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries due to political instability and economic difficulty.
  • Mass displacement caused by conflict and violence in Chin State, Myanmar: Since May 2021, hundreds of Chin people have been arrested and dozens have been killed by conflict and violence. By the end of December, some 132,000 people from Chin State and neighboring Sagaing and Magway regions have become internally displaced and a further 15,000 have fled to seek temporary shelter in India.
  • Irregular journeys risk resulting in death: As countries across the region have delayed plans to ease travel restrictions for fear of the new COVID variant, refugees and migrants have risked their lives in irregular journeys to find better livelihood opportunities and protection in Thailand and Malaysia.
  • More action is needed to mitigate climate impact on displaced and stateless people: The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) took place in Glasgow from 31 October to 13 November 2021. It provided a platform to discuss the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable populations, including millions of people forced from their homes every year by weather-related disasters.

Thematic Focus: Bhasan Char one year on – warehousing is undermining fundamental rights

Read the full QMMU

 

East Africa and Yemen

Key Updates Quarter 4 – 2021

  • Further displacement in Northern Ethiopia as hostilities escalate: New displacement have been reported from Western Tigray with an estimated 30,000 displaced into North Western districts. The number of Internally displaced people (IDPs) have increased since September in Afar and Amhara regions in the wake of intensified conflict. 1.2 million people have been displaced in Western Tigray since the conflict began in November 2020.
  • Dutch-Eritrean arrested for human smuggling: A 53-year-old man, John Habeta was arrested in Kenya in December by authorities. The suspect is reported to have been involved in smuggling Eritreans into Europe in four separate operations.
  • Kenya passes progressive Refugee Act: President Uhuru Kenyatta passes the Refugee Act 2021 providing refugees the opportunity to participate in social and economic activities. The Act also expanded the designated areas of settlement as well as provided integration and inclusion measures at the county and national level.
  • 176 asylum seekers evacuated from Libya: A group of 176 asylum seekers were evacuated to Rwanda from Libya. Among those evacuated are men, women and children from Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. Many of the evacuees are believed to be victims of trafficking and faced different forms of abuse and violence and detention.
  • South Africa and Kenya agree to deport undocumented migrants to Kenya: A deal to return irregular migrants who entered South Africa to Kenya was brokered by the presidents of both states in December. Kenya will be required to take back migrants who entered South Africa from Kenya based on ‘clear proof’ of a breach.
  • A total of 11,612 East African refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen this quarter, a 91% increase from last quarter’s 6,091. Over the year however, the overall number of arrivals into Yemen remained low with just 27,693 arrivals recorded in 2021, a 35% reduction on the 37,535 recorded in 2020, and an 80% reduction on the 138,213 recorded in 2019.

Thematic Focus: The plight of Eritrean refugees in Egypt

Read the full QMMU