Migration and Trafficking in Persons

Beyond Irregularity:

Towards a sustainable approach to dealing with irregular migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe



The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), UK, in partnership with Sussex Centre for Migration Research at Sussex University, UK; Eaves Housing for Women Ltd, UK; Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), Belgium; the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME), Morocco; and the development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) in Nigeria are commencing work on a major new study exploring irregular and transit migration from Sub-Saharan Africa, through Morocco to the EU.

The project’s overarching objective is to create an evidence base which will enable individual governments, the EU and others to better manage and prevent irregular migration from Sub-Saharan African countries and transit in Morocco to the EU, and to institutionalise a dialogue about these issues between them.

The project’s specific objectives are:

  • To address knowledge gaps about recent developments and trends regarding irregular migration between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe through collaborative action-oriented research.
  • To enhance the institutional capacity of governments and civil society actors through training and collaborative research in countries of origin and transit to combat illegal migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
  • To strengthen the protection of migrants’ rights in transit countries.
  • To raise awareness about the risks of irregular migration and exploitation by trafficking networks, particularly in countries that experience high levels of outwards migration.
  • To provide a strategic and sustainable framework for dialogue and cooperation around irregular migration and trafficking between EU member states and counties of origin and transit.

 Research programme

The project will run between 2011 and 2013, and will focus on three specific case studies. These will seek to address some of the common misconceptions about irregular migration and trafficking, to enhance our understanding of the complex and changing individual motivations to migrate and to formulate innovative policies that go beyond traditional security responses (such as border controls and policing). 

 Case study 1: Victims of trafficking – Nigerians in the UK

Research will be carried out to gather detailed evidence on the methods and routes used by traffickers to transport individuals from Nigeria to the UK. We will work with civil society actors and relevant government departments in the UK (and in consultation with our Nigerian partner) in order to develop a comprehensive prevention strategy to stop women being trafficked into prostitution in the UK. This will have a particular focus on preventing women being trafficked prior to the Olympics in 2012.

Case study 2: Irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in transit in Morocco

Researchers will explore migrants’ experiences and intentions at each stage of irregularity. Interviews will be conducted with asylum seekers, visa over-stayers, clandestine entrants, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors, apprehended irregular migrants and vulnerable migrants. Along with our Moroccan partner, we will work with civil society actors and government departments in Morocco to strengthen the protection of migrants’ rights while in transit.

Case study 3: Returnee irregular migrants in Nigeria and Morocco

The research will explore migrants’ motivations for remaining in the EU and inhibitors to return at each stage of their experience as an irregular migrant, as well as their future migration intentions. We will work with civil society actors and relevant government departments in Nigeria and Morocco to establish social and professional reintegration schemes.

Project activities

In order to achieve the project objectives set out above, ippr and its partner organisations will employ a variety of methodological tools and engage in a series of activities.

  • Capacity building and mutual learning is a key element of this work. To make the most of our relationships with project partners, ippr will organise and run a training session for these organisations on advanced qualitative research methods. We will then work collaboratively with them to analyse data, develop policy recommendations and disseminate the research findings through the organisation of stakeholder seminars and a major international conference on future migration trends from the Maghreb region to the EU.
  • To help improve the protection of transit migrants’ rights, ippr and its partners will carry out a mapping of existing initiatives to manage irregularity, as well as a benchmarking of the number of irregular migrants accessing services to protect their rights at both the beginning and the end of the project. Based on the results of these mapping exercises, ippr will support partner organisations in setting up a network of stakeholders to engage in advocacy around these issues. We will also hold 10 training workshops (5 in each country) for civil society organisations on rights-based approaches, advocacy, awareness raising, information and support services for irregular migrants and refugees.
  • To raise awareness in Nigeria about the risks involved in irregular migration and trafficking, ippr and its local partner will conduct a poll to gauge public understanding of these issues at the start and the end of the project. We will use this information to develop an information campaign using various publicity materials, and target this particularly at young women in areas of high migration potential in Nigeria.
  • To ensure the sustainability of the research, ippr will lead on establishing a permanent Euro-Mediterranean Consortium for Irregular Migration Research and Advocacy. We will invite research institutes and civil society actors in the Euro- Mediterranean region to join the Consortium.


We aim to reach a broad range of stakeholders with this work, and therefore plan to produce a variety of outputs in order to increase our potential influence and reach. These will include:

  • Four policy briefings related to the case studies to be published as web reports.
  • Four final case study reports with recommendations for wide dissemination.
  • Four stakeholder seminars to promulgate the project’s recommendations.
  • Training handbooks and materials that will be circulated to partner organisations
  • and disseminated more broadly.
  • A toolkit for civil society actors that they can use to train their staff to improve the
  • level of support they provide for irregular migrants and victims of trafficking in
  • terms of information and signposting to the right services
  • The creation of a network of stakeholders in Morocco and Nigeria.
  • Information campaign material about preventing and addressing trafficking, which
  • will be widely disseminated across Nigeria and in London.
  • An independent and sustainable Consortium for Migration Research and 

Project partners

The project will be managed by a Project Management Team (PMT) at ippr. The PMT will provide overall guidance for the project and be responsible for all substantive matters, supported by the project’s Advisory Committee. The responsibility for day-to-day management of the project rests with the ippr Project Coordinator.


The project will begin in March 2011 and run until July 2013.

  • Case study 1 will run from June 2011 to December 2011
  • Case study 2 will run from September 2011 to May 2012
  • Case study 3 will run from January 2012 to February 2013
  • Advocacy training, setting up of CIMRA and international conference from April 2012- June 2013

About ippr

Ippr is one of the most influential think tanks in the UK, with an unrivalled reputation for incisive, policy-relevant research which has real and substantial impacts on the policy landscape. ippr works on a range of policy issues at all levels of government in the UK, and at the European and international levels. ippr has over a decade’s experience in migration research, and has become a key centre for the study of issues relating to migration, asylum and integration. ippr also has a record of high profile work on development issues, with important contributions, for example, to discussions of the G8’s priorities in Africa