West Africa as a Migration and Protection Area

Charriere, F. and Fresia, M.
Publication language
Date published
01 Nov 2008
Research, reports and studies
Disasters, Epidemics & pandemics, Urban

West Africa, through its strategic position between North Africa and the tropical zones, but also through its opening towards the Atlantic and the Americas, has always been a place of intensive mobility and intermixing of populations. Since the 1960s, it has included a number of areas of political and economic stability (Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria), which have made it an attractive space compared to the rest of the continent. West Africa, while a land of immigration since the colonial period, has also become a land of emigration. There have been substantial population movements from the countries at the centre of the sub-region towards the coastal countries as well as other African countries (Gabon, Congo, Cameroon) and, to a lesser extent, the former colonial countries (France, Great Britain, Portugal). In the last few years, the arrival of fishing boats from the Sub-Sahara on the coasts of Spain and Italy, highly politicized and with intense media coverage, has also given the sub-region a new image: one of a “transit” area from which “thousands of Africans” are departing in the hope of reaching the European El Dorado.