The Central Sahel countries of Mali and Niger are migration crossroads, both in terms of intra-regional migration and for journeys to North Africa or towards Europe on the Western and Central Mediterranean Routes. It is difficult to know the proportion of migrants passing through these countries who have used smugglers during their journey. However, the use of smugglers by migrants appears to be a common phenomenon.
This paper has been prepared by the Mixed Migration Centre within the framework of a UNODC-OHCHR joint initiative (PROMIS) funded by the Government of the Netherlands, aimed at promoting a human rights-based response to smuggling of migrants and to respond to human rights abuses related to irregular migration in West Africa. It is based on 4Mi data collected with migrants in Mali and Niger in 2021. Using data from respondents who used a smuggler during at least one part of their journey, it examines respondents’ perceptions of their smuggler(s) and rationale for using them. It also looks at abuses and perpetrators cited by those who have used a smuggler; assistance and information needed en route; and perceived risks to children.