Migration is an integral part of life in West and Central Africa, a long tradition embedded in its historical, economic, social and cultural fabric.
The region is a pivotal area of mobility, home to strong intraregional migration and, thanks to its strategic location at the crossroads, close exchanges with other regions.
Home to an estimated population of 459 million, of which 43 per cent are under the age of 15, the region hosted 9,5 million international migrants in 20203. Diverse economic opportunities throughout the region, seasonal and circular movements and agropastoral transhumance spur large internal migration flows. As such, West and Central Africa is witness to some of the closest and most intense migration flows in the world and home to intricate mobility networks and routes. At the same time, inter-regional mobility involves large movements of people to and from North Africa, Europe, North America, the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa.
Because of multiple, cross-cutting and mutually reinforcing vulnerabilities, including demographic pressure; dwindling resources; economic and climate shocks and environmental degradation; long-standing communal tensions; and violent extremism, West and Central Africa is also the setting of several complex security crises which have displaced millions of people. With more than 7.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 1.3 million refugees and asylum-seekers recorded by the end of the year 2020, countries in the region continue to experience significant levels of internal and cross-border displacement.
The “A Region on the Move” report aims to provide an overview of the main population movement trends in the West and Central Africa region (WCA) in 2020. It presents regional mobility using two broad strokes: internal displacement and migration flows. In each of these sections, the report showcases the primary mobility trends, key events, and profiles of mobile populations observed in 2020. The 2020 edition of the report also includes a section exploring in detail the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on regional mobility and on migrant populations.
The analysis builds on multiple data sources, most of them directly managed and collected by IOM, with external sources used to further complement the mobility picture and provide a holistic understanding of population movement dynamics in West and Central Africa. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), which monitors internal forced displacements, migration flows, and characteristics of populations on the move, as well as other data on migration flows, targeting specific sub-groups (such as transhumant herders, migrants departing from Senegalese coasts, or migrant stocks in Mauritania) at different stages of their migration journey, constitutes the main data source for the report. . At the regional level, the Data and Research Unit was established to enhance coordination, harmonize the different data sources and foster a multilayered analysis of regional migration data.
Source: International Organization for Migration