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African migration to Europe is regularly at the center-stage of media and policy attention. The regular media coverage of migrants arriving by sea on the shores or islands of Italy and Spain has fed the idea that the European continent is invaded by floods of destitute migrants. Migration policies in Europe have also to a large extent focused on the control of irregular migrations at its external borders (Gabrielli, 2012). The ideas that African migrants are largely composed of irregular migrants traveling long journeys through the Sahara – and the sea – have entered common wisdom. For instance, the widely consulted Wikipedia website mentioned that “the majority of the African migrants haven't got European travel visas, therefore their only accessible ways northward is that of travelling through the trans-Saharan routes” (Wikipedia, 2012). This focus by the media and policy-makers on irregular African migration does not acknowledge the large diversity of African migration to Europe. Moreover, the media and policy attention paid to sub-Saharan immigration is at odds with the relatively low numbers of African migrants in Europe (de Haas, 2007; Lessault and Beauchemin, 2009; Gabrielli, 2012).

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