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IOM Trends Analysis: Most Horn of Africa migrants move within region


IOM Trends Analysis: Most Horn of Africa migrants move within region

IOM Trends Analysis: Most Horn of Africa migrants move within region
Photo credit: IOM | Olivia Headon

Nearly 400,000 migrant movements were recorded in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia during the first six months of 2018 – an average of 2,000 or more individuals per day.

It is an active migration zone, characterized by what is considered “mixed” migration – or the movement of different population groups for a variety of reasons.

A slim majority (51%) of these individuals are moving from, but also within, the Horn of Africa, followed by about 36 per cent whose movements are towards the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on the eastern route – through Djibouti, Somaliland and Puntland.

Smaller movements are being tracked along the Southern Route (to South Africa) and the Northern Route (to Egypt and Israel), about 8 and 5 per cent, respectively.

IOM also recorded over 50,000 arrivals in Yemen during the first half of 2018, which is consistent with the 90,000-100,000 rates of arrivals from Africa annually to Yemen during recent years.

These are a few of the findings detailed in a new report, entitled A Region on the Move, that provides mid-year trend analyses of the main events and key population mobility patterns across the East and Horn of Africa (EHoA) region. The report provides evidence-based insights into major displacement crises and migration trends observed during the first six months of 2018.

Among the major highlights:

  • Some 970,000 Ethiopians were forced to flee their homes between April and June (2018) following inter-communal conflict in the areas between the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and the Oromia Region;

  • Somalia continues to be affected by protracted and new displacements, with an estimated 2.6 million internally displaced persons as of May 2018;

  • Burundian refugees continue to return from Tanzania, with a total of 27,184 recorded during the first seven months of 2018, bringing the total number of returns to 45,180 since the process began in September 2017;

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a landmark declaration of peace and friendship on 9 July, followed by a joint declaration between Eritrea and Somalia that affirmed a mutual commitment to foster regional peace, stability and economic integration;

  • In another important milestone, the African Union adopted a Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa in January 2018.

These and other trends in migrant movements are studied by the Regional Data Hub (RDH) for the EHoA, established at the beginning of 2018. The RDH aims to support evidence-based, strategic and policy-level discussions on migration through a combined set of initiatives that build on IOM’s extensive migration portfolio in the East and Horn of Africa region.

This includes establishing a baseline for regional migration flows, increasing information management capacity across countries to strengthen data consolidation, quality control and conducting research on mixed migration to publish timely and relevant reports and trend analyses.

Commenting on the operations of the RDH, IOM Regional Director Jeffrey Labovitz said: “The data hub is a flagship initiative to inform practitioners and partners on mobility. We saw a gap in the consolidation and dissemination of information and our aim is to provide a reference point in the region on migration.”

The cornerstone of the RDH is the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), used by IOM to regularly track and monitor displacement and population mobility, as well as provide critical information to decision-makers and responders during and in the aftermath of crises, and contribute to a better understanding of population flows.

In the EHoA, the DTM is implemented across six countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. It has the widest coverage of primary data collection on internal displacement and migration in the region.

Funding for the RDH was largely provided through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. More commonly known as the ‘Joint Initiative’, the project facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes.

The Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Trust Fund for Africa, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.

The full list of related publications can be found here.

A Region on the Move: Mid-year trends report – January to June, 2018

Thus far, 2018 has been historic in many ways. Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a landmark declaration of peace and friendship on 9 July, casting aside decades of hostility in a matter of weeks. The announcement of the end to the state of war was met by widespread jubilation in both countries, and was matched by concrete acts of rapprochement, which included reopening telephone and air links as well as the Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia. Later in July, Eritrea and Somalia announced a restoration of diplomatic relations through a joint declaration that affirmed a mutual commitment to foster regional peace, stability and economic integration.

This was followed, in September, by a high level ministerial meeting between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea that culminated in a joint declaration on comprehensive cooperation between the three countries that will see closer political, economic, social and cultural ties and improved coordination to promote regional peace and security and contribute to economic integration in the region. Shortly after, two border posts reopened between Eritrea and Ethiopia that had previously been closed for 20 years.

These unexpected, but much-welcomed, détentes are rare breakthroughs in a region that has been beset by insecurity and challenging diplomatic relations for decades.

In another important milestone, the African Union adopted a pdf Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa (3.80 MB) in January 2018. Its adoption has been described as a turning point in the continent’s complex history, which has seen the maintenance of colonial borders that have largely impeded intra-Africa mobility. If challenges in its implementation can be overcome, the Protocol is expected to bring about greater intra-Africa trade, commerce, tourism and labour mobility, among other benefits.

Yet, despite these important developments, it can be said that much has stayed the same. Displacement levels remain high with little indication of falling: an estimated 4.6 million refugees and asylum seekers as well as 13.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are hosted in the greater region. And, like in previous years, the factors forcing people from their homes continue to relate to conflict and insecurity as well as environmental challenges, such as flooding.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Horn of Africa migrants continue to make dangerous, irregular journeys eastwards to Gulf Cooperation Council countries, northwards to Europe, and southwards to Southern Africa in the pursuit of better economic opportunities or in the hope of finding asylum.


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