IOM Study Assesses Migration Risks on Mediterranean Routes

Migration Research, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Germany - Over one million migrants risked their lives to enter the European Union via irregular routes in 2015. This year over 350,000 irregular migrants have arrived in Europe so far, and over 4,700 have lost their lives in the Mediterranean.

A new IOM study: “Assessing the Risks of Migration along the Central and Eastern Mediterranean Routes: Iraq and Nigeria as Case Study Countries” explores the main risks faced by migrants when they leave home, during the journey and at their destination.

The report is based on in-depth qualitative research in countries along the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. It focuses on Iraqi and Nigerian migrants as case studies, as Nigeria is the number one country of origin for migrants travelling along the Central Mediterranean route. Iraqis represent the third biggest group of migrants who travelled along the Eastern Mediterranean route in 2016.

The research also adds new insights to the discourse around expanding regular migration channels and legal pathways to asylum.

“The journey to Europe is replete with risks and dangers. It requires financial resources, as well as the physical stamina to sustain the arduous journey. This means that the most vulnerable are often unable to bear it and are left behind at the place of origin,” said Arezo Malakooti, the author of the study.

In the case of Iraqis, the study identified many people leaving the country in search of safety. The journey often involved travelling through areas of Iraq or Syria controlled by ISIL – the so-called Islamic State.

A 36-year-old Iraqi woman interviewed in Germany explained: “The most difficult part of the journey was leaving Mosul. We are aware that ISIL kill people and harass women for no reason. Because of their reputation, we knew that being spotted could mean being captured or killed.”

In the case of Nigerians, the study identifies the high risk that they run from human traffickers. It interviewed Nigerians fooled into travelling to Libya and then sold on arrival into modern slavery. It also identified a host of other risks associated with human smuggling and trafficking in Libya.

The study was commissioned by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) for the UK’s Department for International Development. It can be downloaded here:

For further information, please contact Arezo Malakooti at IOM GMDAC in Berlin, Tel:  +49 152 3789 1701, Email: