Examining Migrants' Vulnerabilities and Migration Policies in Africa

Although migration is a policy priority in Africa, north-bound migratory movements seem to occupy the migration discourse and policy debates continuously. Intra-Africa migration which accounts for the most significant portion of migratory movements in Africa is often less addressed. While African policymakers have developed policies on migration, they are yet to address the humanitarian challenges faced by migrants and engage in collective negotiations with critical players globally. This is pertinent as migrants often face compound vulnerabilities that undermine their fundamental rights and access to essential services along migration routes. Migrants further face the risk of going missing en route to destination countries due to loss of contact with relatives, detention, or death and burial without proper documentation or identification. Other risks include deteriorating mental health, especially during the difficult journeys from their countries of origin, stigma emanating from deportation, and likely persecution from the country of origin or countries where they may be undocumented or have an irregular status. On top of that, many migrants face prolonged detention and other forms of deprivation of freedom, lack of access to social benefits, and hostile immigration authorities in countries of transit or destination. Some migrants may be directly targeted and harmed or face xenophobia. Thus, this policy brief examines the vulnerabilities and risks faced by migrants in Africa along migration routes, including on return and whether they are effectively reflected in migration policymaking in Africa. The brief further delves into how policymakers can influence the African Union and its member states to make it a priority to save lives along migration routes, improve the access of migrants to humanitarian and protection assistance, address the protection risks they are exposed to along the migratory journey, and adopt mechanisms that contribute to the prevention of migrants going missing and support families of missing migrants.