E.g., 11/29/2020
E.g., 11/29/2020

Africa (sub-Saharan)

Africa (sub-Saharan)

Sub-Saharan Africans migrate to North Africa, Europe, North America, and beyond. The research offered here focuses generally on two aspects of sub-Saharan migration: the outcomes for these migrants and their children once they have settled in their countries of destination, the United States among them, and the roles that diasporas and development policies can play in the economic improvement of these African nations.

Recent Activity

Reports
September 2016
By  Christopher Horwood and Kate Hooper
Articles
Articles
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Reports
November 2008
By  Wolfgang Lutz, Warren Sanderson, Sergei Scherbov and Samir K.C.
Reports
November 2008
By  Lesleyanne Hawthorne
Policy Briefs
September 2008
By  Kathleen Newland, Dovelyn Rannveig Mendoza and Aaron Terrazas
Policy Briefs
July 2008
By  Aaron Terrazas, Jamie Durana and Will Somerville
Reports
April 2008
By  Thomas Faist and Jürgen Gerdes
Policy Briefs
June 2007
By  Dilip Ratha

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A woman sells West African clothing at a market in Washington, DC.

The population of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States has grown rapidly in recent decades, from 130,000 in 1980 to 1.7 million in 2015. The current flow of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa consists of skilled professionals, individuals seeking reunification with relatives, and refugees from war-torn countries. This article provides the latest data on immigrants from the region in the United States.

In recent years, Switzerland has become a popular destination for highly skilled migrants, including from the Senegambia region of West Africa. Meanwhile, migration also flows the opposite way with Swiss migrants heading to Senegal and The Gambia. This article compares and contrasts the experiences of these migrants at destination as well as their motivations to migrate and attitudes toward remittances and citizenship.

Climate-related displacement is not hypothetical: An average of 21.5 million people per year have been displaced since 2008 by natural disasters, and thousands more have fled slow-onset environmental hazards. While migration can serve as a safety valve to adapt to changing conditions, few orderly, legal channels exist for climate migrants (also known as environmental migrants), as this article explores.

With global displacement at a post-World War II high, the international community made some advances on refugee protection in 2016, but there were also steps backward. The United Nations held the first-ever refugee summit and some countries, including the United States and Canada, increased their resettlement commitments. Meanwhile, conflict intensified in some hotspots and publics turned against refugees, as this Top 10 article explores. 

In stark contrast to a Europe that is erecting new barriers and reinstituting border controls, other regions around the world are moving toward greater mobility for intraregional travelers and migrants. Regional blocs in South America and Southeast Asia have been working to ease intraregional movements of workers, and the African Union in 2016 launched a new biometric African passport.

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Recent Activity

Video, Audio
September 28, 2016

Back from a recent trip to the region, Human Rights Watch researchers discuss the situation of refugees at the Dadaab camp in Kenya and findings from on-the-ground interviews, along with recommendations for the Kenyan government and international community. 

Reports
September 2016

Even in a region characterized by mobility, Eritrean refugees stand out for the frequency and distance of their onward movement. With more than 411,000 Eritreans in refugee-like situations, this report outlines how they access protection, the routes they take, and how their high rates of mobility challenge traditional concepts of refugees as static populations and raise questions about how to provide effective protection.

Articles

Kenyan migration to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been on the rise over the last few decades, spurred by rising unemployment and instability in Kenya combined with the GCC region's economic growth and proximity. While both sending and origin countries benefit economically from this new migration, it presents significant challenges for these governments, particularly in the area of labor rights, as this feature article explores. 

Articles

One of the least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced significant migration outflows and inflows tied to political and economic crises in recent decades. While most Congolese migrants head to neighboring countries, destinations have diversified, with an uptick in those leaving for opportunities in Europe and beyond. This country profile explores historical and contemporary patterns of migration to and from DR Congo.

Articles

At least 10 million people worldwide are stateless, including 1 million in West Africa, though experts believe the true number may be much higher. West Africa's colonial heritage and nationality laws have increased the risk of statelessness, particularly for vulnerable social groups including migrants and their descendants, refugees, and children. Governments across the region have recently initiated action plans to eradicate statelessness, as this feature explores.

Articles

Global displacement reached a new high with nearly 60 million people worldwide displaced internally or externally in the greatest number since record-keeping began. The trend continued in 2015 as conflicts in places such as Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen drove millions of people to leave their homes and seek refuge in other communities or across borders.

Articles

Faced with a flexible, diverse, and seemingly ubiquitous smuggling industry, governments have struggled to respond. Smuggling and trafficking networks, while hardly new phenomena, were put under a harsh spotlight in 2015 for their role as intermediaries in shaping the scale and flow of migrants and asylum seekers around the world.

Articles

From earthquakes to drought, natural disasters and climate change played a key role in migration flows in 2015. Climate-induced migration surfaced as a concern at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP21) as international organizations and policymakers have begun to recognize the growing challenges, and potential protection obligations, of such movement.

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