Quarterly Mixed Migration Updates, Quarter 3 – 2023 (July-September)
This article presents the key updates on mixed migration from six regions around the world during the third quarter of 2023. Links to the full Quarterly Mixed Migration Updates (QMMU) per region are included below.
Asia and the Pacific
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- Pilot repatriation program for Rohingya to return to Myanmar advances: Despite calls for suspension by the UN given concerns over conditions in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Myanmar move forward with plans to repatriate 3,000 Rohingya by the end of 2023.
- Thailand’s new National Screening Mechanism (NSM) officially launched in September: While the mechanism could address existing gaps in refugee protection, rights groups express concerns regarding its implementation as well as certain provisions that exclude migrant workers from neighbouring countries from accessing protection.
- Deteriorating conditions for Afghans in Iran and Pakistan: Afghans in Iran and Pakistan experience worsening conditions following increased crackdowns, with slow progress in resettlement to France, Italy, and the United States.
- Türkiye increases EU and UK-backed measures to prevent irregular migration: New deal progresses between Türkiye and the UK for the prevention of irregular migration, alongside substantial funding from the EU and creation of a new dialogue on irregular migration – the ‘Rome Process’.
- New Zealand offers new pathways for refugee settlement: Some Afghans in New Zealand eligible for reunification with family members under the refugee family support category and a new investor visa scheme is proposed to fund the resettlement of climate refugees from the Pacific.
Thematic Focus: As is in Mizoram, not Manipur: India needs to prioritise refugee protection
Eastern and Southern Africa | Egypt & Yemen
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- Ongoing conflict in Sudan continues to fuel internal displacement, cross-border movement and forced immobility: compared to the previous quarter, cross-border movements have increased by 166% in Chad (481,147), 108% in South Sudan (281,129), 82% in Libya (4,110), 48% in Ethiopia (82,403), 27% in Egypt (323,230) and 21% in the Central African Republic (CAR) (18,545).
- Introduction of visa policies for Sudanese fleeing the conflict: Due to increasing numbers of Sudanese displaced by the conflict in Sudan, both Egypt and Ethiopia have introduced new visa restrictions for Sudanese
- Decrease in refugee and migrant arrivals in Yemen: From July– September, 15,227 refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen, compared to 35,677 arriving in the previous quarter.
- Increase in spontaneous returnees from Yemen to the Horn of Africa: This quarter, 1,713 refugees and migrants returned to the Horn of Africa from Yemen, compared to 1,354 in Q2, representing a 27% increase.
- Anti-trafficking operations in Uganda: In August 2023, police intercepted 20 Eritreans, including 12 adults and six children, who were being trafficked into the country. The same month, Ugandan police rescued 179 Ugandans who were being trafficked to Kenya and arrested one trafficker.
- Increase in East African arrivals along the Central Mediterranean Route: Compared to the previous quarter, between June and August, Sudanese arrivals in Italy saw a fourfold increase, while arrivals among Ethiopians, Somalis, and Eritreans, more than doubled.
- Hundreds of deaths reported along the Yemen-Saudi border: Between March 2022 and June 2023, hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers were systematically killed by Saudi border guards on the border with Yemen. This quarter saw the release of reports by the Mixed Migration Centre and Human Rights Watch, and widespread media coverage and condemnation of these atrocities and increasing calls for investigations.
- Ethiopians travelling without documentation intercepted along the Southern route: In August, 65 Ethiopians were apprehended in Tanzania, 40 in Botswana, and 98 in South Africa, with the latter group suspected to be victims of trafficking. In addition, 26 Ethiopians were apprehended in Kenya, though their destination was unknown.
- South Africa on curbing irregular migration: South African Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said to the press that the government is in the process of changing its migration laws and that a radical overhaul is A white paper detailing the changes is being reviewed by the Cabinet.
Thematic Focus: Sudanese fleeing conflict faced with restrictive visa policies
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- Sharp uptick in the number of arrivals on the Eastern Mediterranean route: according to UNHCR, of the 30,694 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who reached Greece between January and the end of September, 22,011 arrived during the third quarter – far more than the total in the previous quarter of 2023 (4,946) and the total during the third quarter of 2022 (5,924). By far the largest national groups were from the State of Palestine (22%), followed by Afghanistan (13%), Somalia (11%), Syria (10.5%) and Eritrea (10.4%).
- Cyprus suffers a wave of xenophobic violence: From late August into September, anti-migrant protests broke out in the towns of Chloraka and Limmasol, with groups of hundreds of people carrying out arson, looting and racially targeted assaults. Some reports suggested that police stood by while the attacks took place.
- A surge in arrivals to Italy overwhelms Lampedusa: according to UNHCR, 67,968 arrivals reached Italy in the third quarter of 2023, up from 37,824 in the previous quarter, with the majority (56,373) originating from Tunisia. Many have entered through Lampedusa, straining the island’s capacity to shelter new arrivals and prompting local authorities in mid-September to declare a state of emergency.
- A jump in the number of arrivals in Spain: 14,194 people reached Spain in the third quarter, according to UNHCR, up from 8,403 in the previous quarter. More than half of arrivals this year have entered via the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands, a journey that has seen a sharp increase in deaths in the third quarter (245).
- A controversial partnership between the EU and Tunisia: on 16 July a €1 billion memorandum of understanding was formalised between the EU and Tunisia, including support for tighter border management. Critics argued that it served to whitewash the Tunisian government at a time when it was carrying out mass arrests and expulsions of sub-Saharan nationals.
- Passage of the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill: in July 2023, the UK parliament approved legislation forbidding anyone who reaches the UK irregularly from claiming asylum and mandates their removal to a third country, even unaccompanied minors, separated children and survivors of trafficking or modern slavery.
- Poland-Belarus border crisis in spotlight: The award-winning film Green Border, dramatising the plight of refugees trapped in the border area between Poland and Belarus, was vilified by members of the ruling party ahead of elections on 15 October and a national referendum on migration, the border wall and other issues (see thematic section).
Thematic Focus: No end in sight to the crisis at the Poland- Belarus border
Latin America and the Caribbean
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- Venezuelans continue to move from Venezuela: According to the latest update from the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants in Venezuela (R4V), as of August 2023, 7,710,887 Venezuelans have left the country. 5% more than recorded in May 2023.
- Increase in mixed migratory movements to North America: An increasing number of people on the move are travelling north from South America without any – or sufficient – economic resources. As a result, the journeys are changing, involving people stopping longer in some cities to acquire income to continue the journey.
- Costa Rica declares a national emergency due to the increase in people in transit through the country: On 29 September, the president of Costa Rica decreed a national emergency due to the increase in the transit of refugees and migrants. In August 2023, 84,494 people entered Costa Rica from Panama’s
Migratory Reception Station (ERM) of Planes de Gualaca, 55% more than in July 2023.
- Guatemala reinforces its border controls with Honduras: Between January and 12 September 2023, national authorities refused entry to 13,800 people on the move. Of those who were refused entry, around 66% were Venezuelan nationals.
- Safe Mobility Offices (SMOs) in Colombia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica: Colombia has temporarily halted new applications, although offices remain open in Guatemala and Costa Rica. Since the inception of operations in June, more than 38,000 people have applied through movilidadsegura.org in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
- Situation in Mexico’s border areas: Despite measures taken by authorities in the United States following the end of Title 42, the number of people trying to reach the United States continues to increase. This impacts border cities in northern and southern Mexico, which host tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants as they wait to obtain an appointment using the CBP One mobile application.
- Children and adolescents migrating to North America: Between 2022 and 2023, the number of children heading north across the Darien gap at the Colombia-Panama border has quadrupled in size: between January and September 2023, 88,648 children crossed the Darién Gap heading north, compared to 21,741 in the same period of 2022.
Thematic Focus: Children and adolescents migrating to North America
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- More deaths on the Atlantic route: While the number of deaths on the Western Mediterranean route reduced substantially in the third quarter of 2023, IOM recorded 247 deaths on the Atlantic route during the same period, more than the total in the previous six months combined.
- Spain launches an investigation into rescue failures: On 13 July Spanish prosecutors requested a formal criminal inquiry into the events surrounding the failed response to a migrant boat that departed from Morocco the previous month and subsequently sank, resulting in the deaths of 36 people. Both Moroccan and Spanish authorities were criticized for their role in the tragedy.
- Increasing departures from Tunisia to Italy: The number of people embarking from Tunisia between July and September 2023 far outstripped the total in the previous quarter, with more than four out of five arrivals in Italy during this period having departed from there.
- Morocco devastated by the worst earthquake in 60 years: One of the most destructive seismic events in Morocco in living memory left almost 3,000 people dead and internally displaced more than 100,000 others after it hit on 8 September.
- Death and displacement in Libya in the wake of Storm Daniel: On 10 September, after Storm Daniel landed in northeastern Libya, two dams upstream of the city of Derna broke, resulting in thousands of deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands of others rendered homeless and at risk of contracting water-borne diseases.
- Mass expulsions from Algeria to Niger: The rise in the number of deportations of Nigeriens and nationals of other sub-Saharan African countries from Algeria this year continued in the third quarter, even in the wake of the military coup in Niger on 26 July, with more than 20,000 people abandoned in the desert by 1 August, trapping many who are unable to move on or return.
- A new EU agreement with Tunisia, despite targeting of sub-Saharan African nationals: Rising levels of hate speech and racist violence, encouraged by the government’s anti-migrant rhetoric, culminated in the mass expulsion of around 2,000 sub-Saharan African nationals from the city of Sfax in July. Despite this, the EU brokered a new 1 billion Euro agreement on 16 July that included significant components around migration management.
Thematic Focus: Rising violence against sub-Saharan African nationals in Tunisia and the new EU partnership
Key Updates Quarter 3 – 2023
- A sharp increase in deaths along the Atlantic Route: Of the 424 fatalities that have been recorded by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project along the Western African route from January to the end of September 2023, more than half (247) occurred in the third quarter. Comparing it with the number of registered arrivals to date, for every 35 people who reach the Canary Islands, at least one person dies or disappears en route.
- Increasing numbers of West Africans arriving on the Central Mediterranean Route: Continuing a trend in the first half of the year, the proportion of nationals from West and Central African countries such as Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon now account for more than 40% of arrivals in Italy in the first eight months of 2023, compared to around 5% in the same period of 2022.
- More deportations from Algeria to Niger: Algeria continued to expel thousands of refugees and migrants to Niger, bringing the total this year to more than 20,000 people by the beginning of August, including many nationals from West African countries such as Guinea and Mali.
- Expulsion of Burkinabè from Ghana: Following the expulsion of some 500 Burkinabè by Ghanaian authorities earlier in July, UNHCR condemned these expulsions as “a violation of the non-refoulement ” It subsequently updated its Position on Returns to Burkina Faso, asking states to refrain from returning Burkinabè nationals originating from an increasingly large part of the country.
- Niger’s government ousted by a military coup: On 26 July, Niger’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a military coup. The situation threatens to aggravate the country’s already fragile security and humanitarian context, placing migrant and displaced populations in particular at greater risk.
- Increased departures from Senegal: Amidst fears of a surge in migration from the country, following increased departures, the spotlight is again on the EU’s proposed partnership – though it remains unclear whether and how this will be implemented.