African migrants in a Tunisian transit camp situated several KM from the Ras Jdir border crossing witth Libya (Photo- EPA)
African migrants in a Tunisian transit camp situated several KM from the Ras Jdir border crossing witth Libya (Photo- EPA)

A report by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) said the main arrival destination of choice for African migrants is a nearby country, not Europe. In addition, the majority of those who do leave Africa come from the continent's more developed nations.

The study, titled "Out of Africa: Why People Migrate", analyses the causes of migration from Africa, future trends, and policies to adopt regarding the situation. One of the main discoveries to emerge from the study is that migrants, "when crossing an international border, are more likely to move to neighbouring countries within their African sub-region than elsewhere, because of the higher costs of moving over longer distances". Despite prevailing public opinion, "only a minor fraction of the people of sub-Saharan Africa decide to leave their country of origin. Their absolute number did increase from 16.3 million in 2000 to 23.9 million in 2015. Yet migrants remained a relatively stable share of the sub-Saharan population, around 2.5% between 2000-2015".

 According to research by experts gathered in the report, "a large majority of sub-Saharan migrants do not actually leave Africa. Most of them typically travel only short distances. For sub-Saharan emigrants, Europe only comes after Africa as a continent of destination". "Poverty makes migration difficult" Regarding the reasons for migrant flows, "migrants are hardly ever the poorest people moving towards the wealthiest places. Africa's extreme poverty, violent conflicts or deteriorated environmental conditions, which remain comparatively extensive, may actually make mobility harder, particularly for international migration, and thus cause many people to be de facto trapped where they are". 

Due to these difficulties, "populations of the least developed countries are less able to move, and tend to migrate over shorter distances. Actually, the countries with a higher level of extra-continental migration correspond to the relatively more 'developed' countries, that are located on the coast, that have a higher level of urbanization, a higher GDP per capita, and that are more advanced in the demographic transition". The report said this is due to the fact that, despite growth, factors like demographic increase don't allow for the possibility of sufficient employment for everyone. "Better infrastructure, higher income, better education and access to information increase the likelihood that people will migrate, and this is likely to continue in the future".

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