Migration risk campaings are based on wrong assumptions

Migration risk campaings are based on wrong assumptions

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Danish Institute for International Studies Policy Brief - May 2015 

According to several international organizations migrant death in the Mediterranean - as well as along the irregular migration corridors through the dessert and war-torn Libya - is caused by a lack of knowledge of the risks involved. Informing about the risks of dying at sea or relying on human smugglers are consequently seen as appropriate policy responses.

But migrants are not ignorant about the risks involved, nor do the root causes of exploitative migration rest with human smugglers or traffickers, writes Maybritt Jill Alpes and Ninna Nyberg Sørensen in this Policy Brief.

The question is not whether migrants have access to information but rather whether they trust the information given. To the extent that information campaigns are perceived as part of a larger plan to prevent migrants from reaching Europe, their credibility may be limited. Moreover, if local living conditions are hopeless and insecure, risk information may be perceived as irrelevant.

Over the years the EU has supported various campaigns informing about the dangers involved in illegal travel to Europe. These campaigns often highlight the risks involved in illegal traveling, not least the risk of falling victim to human smugglers and traffickers, sexual and other forms of abuse, extortion, and in the worst case scenario death along the way. These risks are real but often known to the migrants. Evaluated against the possibility of having a better and more secure life elsewhere they nevertheless take the chance. With few open channels for regular migration, information campaigns focusing only on risks tend to be little credible to an audience considering themselves already disadvantaged and at risk in their countries of origin. 

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  • Danish Institute for International Studies