Turning the tide
February 2017
Turning the tide
The politics of irregular migration in the Sahel and Libya
Fransje Molenaar & Floor El Kamouni-Janssen

This report analyses the relationship between irregular migration and conflict and stability in Mali, Niger and Libya. Studying the human smuggling networks that operate within and across these three countries provides insights into the transnational dynamics of irregular migration as well as these networks’ interaction with local, national and regional political and economic dynamics. The report’s main finding is that current EU policies are misaligned with the reality of trans-Saharan migration as they do not take into account the diversity of intra-African migration. In addition, human smuggling networks form part of larger political economies and cannot be addressed effectively without taking into account the extent to which state authorities are involved in and/or capable of controlling irregular migration. Failure to take these local realities into account results in inefficient and ineffective policies at best, and counterproductively strengthens one of the root causes of migration at worst, because it overlooks the intricate links that exist between migration and conflict and stability in the region.

About the authors

Fransje Molenaar is a research fellow at the Clingendael Conflict Research Unit. 

Floor El-Kamouni-Janssen is a research fellow at the Clingendael Conflict Research Unit. 

Cover photo

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