A Roadmap to Protection in Mixed Movements 2021

A Renewed Call for Action

A Roadmap for Advocacy, Policy Development, and Programming: Protection in Mixed Movements along the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes 2021

“A Roadmap for Advocacy, Policy Development, and Programming: Protection in Mixed Movements along the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes 2021” is a renewed call for action initiated by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC).

The Roadmap provides tailored recommendations to improve the protection of refugees and migrants in mixed movements on the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes and should serve as a resource for strategic engagement with different asylum and migration stakeholders at local, national, and international levels.


The Challenge

How should asylum and migration actors respond to people on the move who hold different legal statuses, but travel together along the same routes, use the same smugglers and face similar risks and protection violations while on the move? When should actors differentiate between refugees and migrants whose needs and experiences on the move are similar, and when should this distinction be secondary to an immediate humanitarian response? How can we better understand the factors that influence people’s decision to migrate and their aspirations?

And how do the changes in human mobility, in turn, impact our world, our governance structures, policy frameworks, and vice versa?

The complexity of mixed movement poses challenges to policymakers and practitioners along the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes. The Roadmap sheds light on those challenges and provides a collective path forward to motivate action and lead a necessary yet positive change.

What makes the Roadmap important?

More than 40 participants, including persons of concern, researchers and academics, protection actors, policy-makers, and journalists from North, West, East, and the Horn of Africa as well as Europe and North America contributed to and validated the Roadmap, through the production of 25 research papers informing policy, programming and advocacy as well as discussions and debates which took place over a three-day policy workshop convened by UNHCR and MMC from 15 to 17 February 2021.

With the intention to be a more effective call for action, the Roadmap includes observations and voices of people who have experienced some form of displacement along the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes. Refugees and persons of concern must stand at the front lines of research and calls for action, as both subjects and investigators.

Key Recommendations for Advocacy, Policy Development, and Programming on Protection in Mixed Movements:

Below is a glimpse of the broad recommendations put forward and further elaborated upon by the Roadmap to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants in mixed movements on the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes:

Emphasise systemic factors

Pro-actively consider what macro-level factors impact protection for people on the move along the CMR and WMR including, but not limited to, trafficking in persons, human smuggling and gaps in protection frameworks.

Implement flexible and adaptive protection programming

Implement protection programmes that are designed to respond to the changing needs and protection concerns of people on the move along the CMR and WMR.

Mobilise local support for national and regional protection frameworks

Adopt community-based and “whole-of-society” approaches to support local civil society and their advocacy and solidarity efforts in calling for enhanced protection frameworks.

Collaborate with cities and municipalities on urban mixed movement initiatives

Increase local capacity-building and delegate more responsibilities and adequate resources to local governing bodies to improve the protection of persons of concern in communities.

Create more comprehensive approaches to combatting trafficking in persons

Work towards more comprehensive solutions to combat trafficking in persons, and implement long-term measures to protect victims and potential victims in their communities of origin, transit and destination or resettlement.

Unpack the complex roles and dynamics within smuggling networks for more targeted policies

Develop a more nuanced policy approach on smuggling, taking into account smuggling dynamics and moving beyond the criminalisation of smugglers.

Advance child and youth-centered mixed movement programming and policies

More research is needed on the experiences, aspirations, capabilities as well as vulnerabilities of children and youth on the move, to make screening and service provision more appropriate to their needs. At the same time, age categories should not limit service provision for children and youth.

Advocate for solutions to enhance the protection of people on the move

In the absence of basic legal safeguards for refugees in some North African countries, and the criminalisation of irregular migration, advocating for creative solutions to improve the protection of those on the move requires collective action and collaboration.

Place evidence and research at the centre of programming and policy

While evidence and research on people on the move are growing, particularly along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes, it often risks not reaching the right audience or intended targets. This stems from a lack of coordination between research “producers” and potential “users” and, at times, a lack of incentives to use evidence and research for programme design, implementation and adaptation.

Disclaimer: The information, views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The policy notes, essays and first-hand accounts included in this volume were first presented at an MMC-UNHCR Policy Workshop in February 2021 and selected through a peer review process that included reviews from MMC, UNHCR and external higher education institutions. The selection of the notes and essays, and the designations and evidence therein, do not imply endorsement on the part of MMC, DRC or UNHCR.

Note on terminology: Mixed movement is a term used by UNHCR. MMC normally applies the term “mixed migration” to refer to cross-border movements of people including refugees fleeing persecution and conflict, victims of trafficking and people seeking better lives and opportunities. See MMC’s full definition of mixed migration and associated terminology here. UNHCR applies the term “mixed movement,” defined as: The cross-border movement of people, generally in an irregular manner, involving individuals and groups who travel alongside each other, using similar routes and means of transport or facilitators, but for different reasons. People travelling as part of mixed movements have different needs and profiles, and may include asylum-seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied or separated children, stateless persons and migrants (including migrants in irregular situations or migrants in vulnerable situations). See more on UNHCR’s approach to mixed movements here. In light of the partnership between UNHCR and MMC in publishing the volume based on the policy workshop, the term ‘mixed movement’ is used.