The Netherlands aims to combat migration-related human trafficking and assist the victims. Some examples:
Awareness raising on migration choices
Although migrants often realise that they are taking risks when embarking on a journey with the aid of migrant smugglers, it has been shown that they often don’t fully understand the consequences of their decision. Reliable information helps them to make well-considered choices and learn more about the opportunities they have in their country of origin. This helps them to make better informed choices about a future in their homeland, which in turn limits irregular migration and prevents unnecessary suffering.
Not all awareness raising is effective. It is important to avoid pitfalls like one-sided communication that is not aligned to the target group, or campaigns purely focused on scaring people off. The Netherlands aims to include newly developed insights in its latest activities.
Rescue of migrants in distress in Niger
Many migrants travel by pick-up truck via Niger, often traversing the Sahara on their way to Libya and then Europe. Due to the difficult conditions and unreliable smugglers, many encounter significant problems along the way.
With Dutch support and in cooperation with the government of Niger, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) carries out rescue missions in the desert. In the mid-2017 to mid-2018 period, they rescued more than 2,800 migrants who would otherwise most likely have perished. These migrants were given shelter and support in returning to their own countries.
Support for West African countries
Tackling criminal networks that traffic and exploit migrants is initially a responsibility of African countries themselves, but they aren’t always successful in their approach. Via UN organisations, the Netherlands supports countries in West Africa in improving their legislation and tracking and prosecuting human traffickers. In addition, the Netherlands promotes cross-border co-operation in this field as well as the protection of migrants’ human rights.
Better migration data
Good figures related to irregular migration are scarce. The Netherlands helps the IOM to collect and analyse this data.
We measured the effects of an awareness raising campaign by the social enterprise Seefar in Nigeria, The Gambia and Iraq (Kurdish Region). The campaign revolves around facilitating consultations between people with migration plans and a trusted counsellor. The indicator shows how many migrants say after the meeting that they will reconsider their plans. This figure is already exceeding the current goal.
Large numbers of migrants become stranded in the desert in the north of Niger. The IOM carries out rescue missions to save these people, who are often in mortal danger. In the mid-2017 to mid-2018 period, the IOM rescued more than 2,800 migrants with Dutch support. This figure is slightly lower than the intended 3,000 but we can generally conclude that the programme is meeting expectations.
Progress in result area Migration cooperation
Significant results were achieved in the mid-2017 to mid-2018 period. Thousands of migrants were helped to return to their countries of origin from Northern Africa or rescued from the desert in Niger. Moreover, informative communication convinced thousands more to reconsider their migration plans, preventing suffering and contributing to the goal of safe and regular migration (SDG 10.7).
There are also challenges within this theme, such as the approach to migrant smuggling and human trafficking. This often requires amendments in legislation, changes in the police force and justice department, tackling corruption and setting up new types of collaboration. It is a long-term process in countries in which the protection of human rights and properly functioning governments are not a matter of course. Another challenge is making results measurable, for example in the case of awareness raising aimed at potential migrants. Collecting and reporting results is sometimes only an option in the long-term. An additional factor is the fact that some projects have started only recently.
Progress has clearly been made, however. The financing and appointment of a Nigerian prosecutor in Italy resulted in better co-operation in the tracking and prosecution of human traffickers. Additionally, agreements were made with IOM to start measuring the effects of providing information to migrants in a scientific way. Another example involves new insights from data collected by the IOM for the Netherlands regarding irregular migration from Nigeria, Somalia and Ethiopia, which showed that most migrants did have jobs but chose to migrate because of their low incomes. Moreover, very few migrants seemed to know what the asylum procedure involves, while they did indicate their wish to apply. This allows us to better understand irregular migration and align our activities in this field.
MIRAA II: Rescuing migrants in the desert in the north of Niger
Irregular migration is often hazardous. Many migrants become stranded in the desert in the north of Niger and would die without help. Supported by the Netherlands, IOM travels the desert to rescue these migrants before helping them to return to their country of origin.
Adoara is a 22-year-old woman who was rescued by the IOM after she and other migrants had been roaming the desert for five days. “I could no longer walk, I was ready to give up,” she says. Two migrants carried her until they were rescued and brought to an IOM centre. There, they were provided with medical aid, food and water. They can also receive support in returning to their country of origin to rebuild their lives there.
Migrants as Messengers: information on migration for and by migrants
“We all went through a lot during our journey to Libya. It wasn’t what we planned for. The journey was just too rough. There are so many things you people can’t imagine.” The words of Abimbola from Nigeria, a young migrant who returned from Libya and shared her story. The MaM project publishes stories in the communities from which the returning migrants come via social media and other channels. They attract attention as it is the migrants themselves who share their often gruesome experiences. Their stories result in discussions on the many perils of irregular migration and the opportunities available at home. Some migrants do more than tell their own story; they join the project as a volunteer and spread their stories even further on film or enter into dialogues with youths who are considering irregular migration. Those who return are increasingly active contributors to creating awareness among their peers. The video shows a volunteer at work and testimonies by returnees.
Migration data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)