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Beyond Irregularity Current

Europe , human rights , integration , migration



In collaboration with international partners, IPPR is leading a major programme of research on irregular and transit migration from sub-Saharan Africa through Morocco to the European Union.

Project overview

The project aims to create an evidence base which will enable governments, the EU and other stakeholders to better manage and prevent irregular migration from sub-Saharan African countries and transit in Morocco to the EU.

The project’s specific objectives are to:

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

The project is focused on three specific case studies. Each case study will address some of the common misconceptions about irregular migration and trafficking, enhance our understanding of the complex individual motivations to migrate, and help 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

This case study will gather detailed evidence on the methods and routes used by traffickers to transport individuals from Nigeria to the UK. We are working with civil society actors and relevant government departments in the UK to develop a comprehensive prevention strategy to stop women being trafficked into prostitution in the UK. This has 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 overstayers, 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 the Moroccan government 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.


Guided by an advisory panel of experts, the project will deliver a number of tailored outputs in 2011–13, including: 

  • four policy briefings and three case study reports
  • running training sessions with partners
  • holding four stakeholder seminars
  • designing a toolkit for civil society actors to improve the level of support they provide for irregular migrants and victims of trafficking
  • hosting a major international conference in Brussels.

To ensure the sustainability of the research, we will also establish 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.


IPPR is very grateful to the European Commission for sponsoring this project.

EU flag

Advisory group members - UK

> Simon Massey, Coventry University
> Rosella Dimento, International Organization for Migration
> Amanda Gray, UNHCR
> Franck Düvell, COMPAS, Oxford University
> Salud Murphy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
> Sue Lukes, MigrationWork
> Don Flynn, Migrants' Rights Network
> Liza Schuster, City University
> Andy Desmond, London Metropolitan Police
> Jenny Moss, Kalayaan, Justice for Domestic Workers  
> Ecaterina Schilling, Community activist
> Debbie Ariyo, AFRUCA
> Hermione Harris, the School of Oriental and African Studies

Steering Group - Nigeria

> Dr Chi-Chi Aniagolu-Okoye, Project Support Unit, Canada International Development Agency (CIDA)
> Friday Okonofua, Executive Director, Women's Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC)
> Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Federal Government of Nigeria, Abuja
> Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
> Prof Eghosa Osaghae, Vice Chancellor, Igbinedion University, Okada
> Josephine Efffah-Chukwuma, Executive Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women

Steering Group - Morocco

> Lamia Elagbi, Inter-ministerial Delegation of Human Rights
> Beatriz Villanueva, UN Women
> Dorien Deketele, Program Officer, International Organization for Migration
> Marc Fawe, External Relations, UNHCR
> Fabrizio Poretti, Swiss Embassy
> Mohamed Khachani, Researcher, Moroccan Organisation of Migration Study and Research
> Michel Peraldi, Researcher, Centre national de la recherche scientifique