The impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants on the move in North and West Africa

This paper offers expert insight and analysis on mixed migration trends that have emerged over the course of 2020 in North and West Africa, grounded in existing literature and MMC’s unique primary data on people on the move. The aim of this paper is to raise awareness and strengthen policymakers’ understanding of the challenges and risks refugees and migrants are facing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in North and West Africa, as well as to promote policies and debate based on data, with the voices and human rights of refugees and migrants at the center.

The paper starts with an overview of existing figures on movement in North and West Africa and along the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes and continues with an analysis of 1) the impact of COVID-19 on refugees’ and migrants’ aspirations and capabilities to move from their countries of origin, 2) the situation of those who have become stranded while on the move, and 3) the impact of COVID-19 on smuggling dynamics. It concludes with a brief exploration of the outlook on mixed migration to highlight policy implications of the findings for the protection of people on the move, which are expected to remain highly relevant in the medium to long term.

This report was prepared for the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) as part of the partnership between MMC and ICMPD to foster effective and sustainable migration policies and programmes.

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