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The media and prevailing policy discourses convey an increasingly apocalyptic image of the massive outflows of desperate Africans fleeing poverty and war at home. The migrants themselves are commonly depicted as victims recruited by “merciless” and “unscrupulous” traffickers and smugglers. However, and notwithstanding the very real increase in regular and irregular West African migration towards Europe over the past decade, available empirical evidence dispels most of these assumptions. This study tries to achieve a more empirically and quantitatively founded understanding of the nature, scale and recent evolution of irregular West African migration to the Maghreb and Europe. Furthermore, this study evaluates how policies to manage trans-Saharan and trans-Mediterranean migration have affected current migration patterns. This research would not have been possible without the funding received from the European Union, and this support from the European Union for the Programme for the Enhancement and Support of Dialogue and Management of Western African Irregular and Transit Migration in the Maghreb is being gratefully acknowledged.

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International Organization for Migration

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