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Accessing the Most Vulnerable Migrants in Ouagadougou and Agadez

People in mixed migration journeys on the Central Mediterranean Route are vulnerable to harm, including violence, physical abuse and exploitation. Yet, stakeholders agree that providing direct assistance to these transit migrants is difficult because it comes with specific challenges that differ from other humanitarian displacement contexts. This study looks at vulnerabilities among migrants in two key transit hubs – Ouagadougou and Agadez – and analyses the strategies that humanitarian actors use to target and access vulnerable migrants. 

Its findings draw from an extensive desk review, 67 interviews with local stakeholders and humanitarian and development service providers, and structured focus group discussions (FGDs) with a total of 136 transit migrants.

The study found that:

  • Among the study’s participants, vulnerabilities increased the longer migrants journeyed along the CMR. As migrants were increasingly exposed to different forms of extortion and abuse, their financial resources diminish and their physical and mental stresses increase. While all migrants experienced situational vulnerability, these often amplified the vulnerabilities of women, children, and migrants with disabilities or chronic illnesses. 
  • The study also found that there were significant access barriers for humanitarian actors to access migrants, and migrants to access services. These barriers limited access to certain vulnerable migrants, including transit migrants in smuggling networks, female migrants in brothels and migrants in jail. 
  • Significantly, the lack of trust in humanitarian actors severely limited transit migrants’ uptake of available services on the CMR. Some migrants said they were not willing to access services provided by humanitarian organisations due to perceptions that they will be forced or encouraged to return to their country of origin, despite suffering from financial losses, physical and mental health-related vulnerabilities. 

Click to download the executive summary and full report. See here for the executive summary in French.

If you have questions or feedback on the study, please contact IMREF Research Manager: [email protected] 

*Seefar forms part of the consortium delivering the Independent Monitoring, Rapid Research and Evidence Facility (IMREF) of the SSS Phase II programme commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID).

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Migration Research and surveys Sub Saharan Africa