Irregular migration is becoming increasingly complex, elaborate and mosaic, making it harder to monitor and identify. A better understanding of irregular migration routes, journeys undertaken by migrants and migrant profiles is imperative to adopt measures to protect migrants and to respond effectively and appropriately to irregular migration(1).
Collecting quality and reliable data, is key to gaining a better understanding of irregular migration and thereby making informed decisions and policies.(1) This is the purpose of IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP), whose findings are presented in this document.
This document highlights the resumption of migration from the coasts of West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands since 2018. While this route was active in the past, notably in 2006, a growing number of migrants have been taking this route. With a very low success rate, few manage to reach the Canary Islands.
Between January and November 2020, 16,760 individuals reached the Canary Islands irregularly after crossing by boat from the coasts of West Africa (Western African Maritime Route). This represents a 1,019 per cent increase in arrivals when compared to the same period in 2019(2).
Data on the Western African Maritime Route remains sparse and incomplete. No coherent or harmonized approach to data collection currently exists. Existing data on arrivals as well as intercepted boats is collected by the Spanish government. Very little data exists on the actual number of departures and attempts from the West African coasts, while shipwrecks often go unreported.