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How West African migrants engage with migration information en route to Europe

As irregular migrants continue to embark on dangerous journeys, governments and civil society have sought to reduce the inherent dangers. Migrant communications have emerged as an important part of this strategy alongside traditional humanitarian responses.

The European Commission engaged Optimity Advisors and Seefar to study information consumption and decision-making processes among West Africans planning to migrate irregularly to Europe. Researchers spoke with over 1,000 West Africans considering migration, returnees, and scores of people smugglers in West Africa, the Sahel, and Libya.

Read the report here.

This report explores the role of information in migrant decision-making. It recommends the use of communications to support those in West Africa contemplating irregular migration.

Key findings:

  • There is demand for communications among migrants at origin – a majority of respondents said they would welcome more information.
  • Respondents were not migrating with any expectation of failure – they were confident their journey would be successful.
  • Wealthier respondents had more specific plans (on route, destination, finances) than poorer respondents. For example, poorer respondents often thought Europe was ‘better’ but couldn’t explain how.
  • The most vulnerable respondents felt confident but demonstrated poor knowledge when asked about aspects of the journey and destination.
  • Social media and mass media (television, radio) shaped perspectives on destinations but were rarely decisive in encouraging respondents to leave.
  • Respondents often verified information gathered online with friends and family in their home communities. Face to face conversations are pivotal in migrant decision-making.

Often referred to as ‘awareness raising’, migrant communications aims to infuse the planning processes of migrants with better information. Better-informed decision-making makes journeys safer and, in some cases, removes the desire to depart in the first place. When done right, strategic communications offer a choice-oriented, rights-compatible approach to migration management.

Read the report here.

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Migration Research and surveys Strategic communications Sub Saharan Africa