Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghreb and the European Union
Hein de Haas
Media and dominant policy discourses convey an apocalyptic image of an increasingly massive exodus of desperate Africans fleeing poverty and war at home trying to enter the elusive European ‘El Dorado’ crammed in long-worn ships barely staying afloat (Pastore et al 2006). The migrants themselves are commonly depicted as victims recruited by “merciless” and “unscrupulous” traffickers and smugglers. Hence, the perceived policy solutions – which invariably boil down to curbing migration –focus on “fighting” or “combating” illegal migration through intensifying border controls and cracking down on trafficking and smuggling related crime. Although there has been an incontestable increase in regular and irregular West African migration to Europe over the past decade, available empirical evidence dispels most of these assumptions.