Migration is not a new phenomenon. Despite this, the recent movement of tens of thousands of people, primarily from Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries, to Europe has captured the public’s attention in new and staggering ways. This is particularly true of irregular migration. Given its unclear definition, a perceived lack of order marks it out as a ‘phenomenon’ that needs to be addressed.
The increase in the rate of migration of people to Europe over the course of the past three years has been a double-edged sword.
While it has shown that people on the move have critical needs, it has dominated the conversation, minimising the attention paid to other mixed migration movements in the Middle East, within different African regions and in Asia. As irregular migration to Europe has endured, attitudes towards people in mixed migration flows there, and further afield, have evolved. Initially people moving towards Europe – principally individuals in precarious protection situations – were welcomed and received with empathy; with continued arrivals, this compassionate reception shifted, and as borders became enforced the effects were felt all along the routes people travelled.
Mixed migration flows – which can be made up of refugees, asylum seekers, smugglers, traffickers, economic migrants, and other groups of displaced persons – are a reality of modern migration. They can be, and often are, non-linear and non-homogenous, and vary in size and composition (inclusive of race, nationality, religion, education and so on). In recent years the conflict in Syria has played a significant part in mixed migration flows to, within and from the Middle East; so too have conflict situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and countries in the Horn of Africa. The movements of people in the Middle East exist on a large and varied scale. With much of the attention focused specifically on Syrian nationals within these flows, information around the humanitarian, social, economic and political implications of the movement of other nationalities in the region has been less highlighted.
In relation to such large scale and enduring migration in the region, three things have become evident:
- Major information gaps exist and there is a need to undertake data gathering, research and analysis to address these.
- Advocacy around key issues relevant to mixed migration flows is needed.
- People moving irregularly often have acute and differing protection concerns, as well as key information needs.
In response to this, seven international NGOs (ACAPS, DRC, Ground Truth Solutions, IMPACT Initiatives, Internews, INTERSOS, and Translators with Borders) have come together to address these key issues regarding mixed migration in the Middle East and have created the Mixed Migration Platform (MMP). The platform’s work is divided into two pillars – the generation and dissemination of quality data, research and analysis to inform the policy, programming and advocacy work of relevant actors, and the provision of quality data to people within mixed migration flows moving to, within and from the Middle East. MMP will also strive to ensure the utility of the information generated through outreach including conferences, workshops, bilateral meetings and representation at key events.
As one MMP partner states, information changes lives, and with this in mind the platform will work to ensure the vulnerabilities of those within mixed migration flows, are addressed.
MMP has begun preliminary analysis and is in the process of developing a comprehensive website that will provide a repository for its work. While this development is in process, check back here for mixed migration related blog posts and content in the coming weeks.