Xchange Press Release: ‘Agadez: Voices from a Historical Transit Hub’: New Xchange report explores the under-reported consequences of the 2015 criminalisation of migration at Europe’s new “southern border”.

Xchange launches its first report of 2019 “Agadez: Voices from a Historical Transit Hub” on Friday, February 1st, the first in our two-part series focusing on mixed migration flows across Africa.

The latest MOAS-funded research was conducted over a three-week period by the Xchange research team in Agadez, Niger. Agadez has long played a crucial role as a transit hub for migrants from across Africa. Xchange collected first-hand data and testimonies from key actors in the region, including smugglers.

The EU’s border externalization efforts have had a profound impact on Nigerien policy, and have induced the country to intensify its control of migration towards Europe. In 2015, ‘Law 2015-036’ was introduced, effectively criminalising the migration industry in Niger, which has significant cultural and socio-economic importance to the region. With far-reaching consequences for migrants and locals alike, the impact of this law has not been widely understood, which has warranted further research into its impact on the ground.

Drawing upon qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews, this report details how migration is still present in the region, although subject to dynamics that have changed significantly over the past few years. Northbound migrant journeys have shifted to alternative routes, which have resulted in migrants facing increased risks. Migrant deaths in the desert are now less likely to be reported.


The migrants are exposed to a danger of death, because nothing is clear anymore. So that’s what we’re trying to explain to the European Union, the real dangers it represents. […] The law has blocked the official circuit. But the clandestine circuit continues. It is more dangerous, there are more deaths.
— M. Anacko, President of the Regional Council of Agadez


The implementation of the law by the Nigerien authorities has come in the form of prosecution of those involved in the industry. This had a severe impact on the local community, causing loss of livelihoods to thousands of people who previously depended on migration as a source of income.


Before the law we were doing really well. When the migrants were here, we had jobs! But now with the law, all that is over.
— Smuggler


Xchange has taken a new direction investigating Niger, a nation that has for centuries been a crossroads for trans-Saharan migration via caravan routes that connected West, Central and North Africa, and more recently, Europe.


Our research experience in Niger strengthened our belief that top-down policies without appropriate consultation, monitoring, and evaluation will always have unexpected implications. Policy cannot be designed and implemented without considering the views of all actors involved, most importantly the locals. We believe that within any migration context, the local population will always be a huge resource of information, and the unbiased collection, analysis, and reporting of data from locals is essential.
— Ioannis Papasilekas, Research Analyst at Xchange



This research is both bold and essential, especially when considering how the flows of migration through Africa, toward Libya and, eventually, Europe, are affected by policy making and economic priorities. We must always be ready to face the facts brought to light by data of this kind. We hope this research serves to not only highlight the situation as we found it, but also to inspire further research into subsequent areas and analysis to promote change.
— Regina Catrambone, Co-founder and Director of MOAS


You can find a link to the full report, “Agadez: Voices from a Historical Transit Hub” here.

About us:

At Xchange, we believe in the power of data to transform public perception on human migration. We dig beyond the headlines to add meaning to numbers and advocate for better knowledge of migration through freely available data visualisation and analysis, as well as in-depth research and reports. Our data is the summary of thousands of individual journeys.


MOAS is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to mitigating the suffering of people forced to risk their lives to reach safety. As an independent NGO, MOAS was founded and continues to operate on the principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality, by providing humanitarian aid, medical assistance and implementing support projects to refugees and migrants in distress.

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