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2015
Africa-Frontex 
Intelligence Community 
Joint Report


2015
Africa-Frontex 
Intelligence Community 
Joint Report
1 of 52

Frontex official publications fall into four main categories: risk analysis, training, operations 
and research, each marked with a distinct graphic identifier. Risk analysis publications bear a 
triangular symbol formed by an arrow drawing a triangle, with a dot at the centre. Metaphor-
ical y, the arrow represents the cyclical nature of risk analysis processes and its orientation 
towards an appropriate operational response. The triangle is a symbol of ideal proportions 
and knowledge, reflecting the pursuit of factual exactness, truth and exhaustive analysis. 
The dot at the centre represents the intel igence factor and the focal point where informa-
tion from diverse sources converges to be processed, systematised and shared as analytical 
products. Thus, Frontex risk analysis is meant to be at the centre and to form a reliable ba-
sis for its operational activities. 
European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation  
at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union
Plac Europejski 6 
00-844 Warsaw, Poland
T +48 22 205 95 00 
F +48 22 205 95 01 
[FRONTEX request email] 
www.frontex.europa.eu
Warsaw, January 2016 
Risk Analysis Unit 
Frontex reference number: 20937/2015
OPOCE Catalogue number TT-01-16-058-EN-N 
ISBN 978-92-95205-21-5 
doi:10.2819/436478
© Frontex, 2016 
All rights reserved. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Cover photo (taken by a migrant): A group of sub-Saharans stranded in a desert mud on 
their way to Sabha, southern Libya. © Frontex, 2015. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMERS
This is a Frontex staff working document. This publication or its contents do not imply the 
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of Frontex concerning the legal status of 
any country, territory or city or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers 
or boundaries. All maps and charts included in this report are the sole property of Frontex 
and any unauthorised use is prohibited. Frontex disclaims any liability with respect to the 
boundaries, names and designations used on the maps. The contents of open-source boxes 
are unverified and presented only to give context and media representation of irregular-mi-
gration phenomena.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The AFIC Joint Report 2015 has been prepared by the Frontex Risk Analysis Unit. During the 
course of developing this product, many col eagues at Frontex and outside contributed to it 
and their assistance is hereby acknowledged with gratitude.
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link to page 8 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 14 link to page 14 link to page 16 link to page 23 link to page 28 link to page 34 link to page 38 link to page 38 link to page 38 link to page 39 link to page 41 link to page 43 link to page 44 link to page 44 link to page 50 link to page 52 Table of contents
Executive summary  #6
1.   Introduction and methodology  #8
1.1.   Introduction  #8
1.2.   Methodology  #8

2.   Irregular migratory movements affecting AFIC countries and EU Member States  #12
2.1.   Introduction  #12
2.2.   Availability of legal travel channels  #14
2.3.   Access to smuggling services, advice from relatives or friends and peer pressure  #21
2.4.  Libya remains in a power vacuum  #26
2.5.   Rising number of casualties among migrants  #32
3.   Cross-border  criminality  #36
3.1.   Introduction  #36
3.2.   Trafficking in human beings  #36
3.3.   Document fraud involving AFIC nationals and travel documents issued by AFIC countries  #37
3.4.   Drug  smuggling  #39
3.5.   Firearms  trafficking  #41
4.   Regional security threats  #42
4.1.   Regional initiatives gain ground against Boko Haram  #42
4.2.  Northern Mali remains unstable  #48
5.   Conclusions and recommendations  #50
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Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
List of abbreviations used
ACLED 
Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project
AFIC 
Africa-Frontex Intel igence Community
AQIM 
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb
AU 
African Union
AVRR 
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
BCP 
border crossing point
CCRC  
Canary Islands Regional Coordination Centre of Guardia Civil (Centro de 
Coordinación Regional de Canarias)

CF 
Frontex Consultative Forum
CFA franc  
 Communauté financière africaine franc
CMFPR-I 
 Coordination of movements and patriotic resistance fronts I (Coordination des 
mouvements et forces patriotiques de résistance I
)
CPA 
Coalition of the People of Azawad
CSDP 
Common Security and Defence Policy
DRC 
Democratic Republic of the Congo
DSS 
Nigeria’s Department of State Services
EB-RAN 
Eastern European Borders Risk Analysis Network
EC, COM 
European Commission
ECOWAS 
Economic Community of West African States
EDF-RAN 
European Union Document-Fraud Risk Analysis Network
EPN 
European Patrols Network
EU 
European Union
EUCAP Sahel Mali  European Union CSDP Mission in Mali
EUNAVFOR Med   European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean
EUR 
euro
Eurostat 
Statistical Office of European Communities
FOC 
Full Operational Capability
Frontex 
 European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the 
External Borders of the Member States of the European Union
FRAN 
Frontex Risk Analysis Network
G5 Sahel 
Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad
GADM 
Database of Global Administrative Areas
GATIA 
Pro-unity Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Al ies
GSPC 
 Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et 
le combat)

HALCIA  
Niger’s High Authority for the Fight against Corruption and Similar Crimes 
(Haute Autorité de lutte contre la Corruption et les Infractions Assimilées)
HCUA 
High Council for the Unity of Azawad (Haut conseil pour l’unité de l’Azawad)
ID 
identity document
IDMC 
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
IDP 
internally displaced person
IOM 
International Organization for Migration
ISIL/Da’ish 
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
ISWAP 
Islamic State’s West Africa Province
JO 
Joint Operation
4 of 52

MAA 
Arab Movement of Azawad
MINUSMA 
 United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
MNJTF 
Multinational Joint Task Force
MNLA 
 National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement national pour la 
libération de l’Azawad
)
MoU 
memorandum of understanding
MSF 
Médecins Sans Frontières
MUJAO 
 Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mouvement pour l’unicité et le Jihad 
en Afrique de l’Ouest
)
NEMA 
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency
NGO 
non-governmental organisation
OPV 
Offshore Patrol Vessel
OSCE 
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
RFI 
Request for Information
RTV 
Rimbo Transport Voyageurs
SALB 
Second Administrative Level Boundaries
SAR 
search and rescue
THB 
trafficking in human beings
TU-RAN 
Turkey-Frontex Risk Analysis Network
UK 
United Kingdom
UNHCR 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
USA 
United States of America
USD 
United States dollar
VIS 
Visa Information System
WAI 
Web Accessibility Initiative
WB-RAN 
Western Balkans Risk Analysis Network
UNODC 
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UN 
United Nations
5 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Executive summary
Legal travel channels to the EU available for 
rocco has significantly reduced the pressure 
most West Africans are quite narrow. Some 
on the route towards the Canary Islands and 
AFIC countries have visa rejection rates close 
south of Spain.
to 50%. This high rate indicates that irregular 
migratory movements from the AFIC region 
The city of Agadez in Niger is catering for a 
to the EU are largely perceived as economic 
growing number of transiting migrants en 
migration by consular authorities in the EU.
route to Libya and further on to the EU. Arriv-
ing in Niger and travel ing to Agadez is a rel-
When measured in terms of the number of 
atively cheap, fast and simple option. People 
refusals of entry issued per 1 000 passen-
smugglers in Agadez consider themselves to 
gers, flights from Lagos to Paris, with rates 
be service providers. Attempts to tackle this 
of around 3–4 refusals for every 1 000 pas-
growing industry could spark local protests.
sengers, are considered the most risky. How-
ever, the overall ratio of refusals of entry to 
Part of the chal enge for the Nigerien au-
the number of passengers has been steadily 
thorities is the fact that the smuggling ser-
declining on a number of air routes between 
vice industry is not control ed by one person 
West Africa and Europe.
or group. Authorities in Niger also face trans-
iting migrants who are determined to reach 
The prevailing profile of rejected visa appli-
Libya and Italy, have entered the territory of 
cants (young males) corresponds to the profile 
Niger legal y (under the ECOWAS free-move-
of migrants arriving in the EU through irreg-
ment protocol) and for the most part are able 
ular channels. Also, apart from North African 
to finance their onward journey.
nationals al  other AFIC country nationalities 
face a very low risk of return after their irregu-
AFIC members pointed to a lack of harmo-
lar entry to Italy, which is the main entry point 
nisation, especial y with regards to different 
for African migrants.
ECOWAS free-movement protocols. While 
some countries al ow entry with ID cards both 
For many West Africans, the decision to mi-
on land and air routes on the basis of bilateral 
grate is motivated by the feeling of inequal-
or multilateral agreements (e.g. between Sen-
ity as well as social, peer and family pressure 
egal and Guinea or Senegal and Cape Verde), 
rather than by desperate need (poverty). 
others require travel documents (passports 
This is why many of the migrants are not the 
and IDs) in line with the ECOWAS protocols 
worst-off in their home countries. 
(Ghana and Nigeria). In practice, ECOWAS 
countries’ citizens very often travel without 
Routing through Niger is currently the pre-
any kind of identity documents due to a lack 
ferred option despite the turmoil in Libya and 
of basic knowledge of the free movement of 
a high risk of loss of life when crossing the 
people within ECOWAS countries.
Mediterranean. This is largely due to the fact 
that would-be migrants face a much higher 
Additional y, with regards to the maximum 
risk of return if detected on other routes. Most 
period of stay (90 days), travel ing on the ba-
notably, very good operational cooperation 
sis of ID card makes it difficult to confirm the 
between Spain, Senegal, Mauritania and Mo-
period of stay, as there is no notification of 
6 of 52

entry/exit (a stamp or registration system). 
Reducing irregular migration through an ef-
Thus, in majority of cases this requirement 
ficient asylum and visa system is likely to be 
is not respected.
difficult to implement in the case of West Af-
rica. This is suggested by the current visa re-
Some people arriving in Agadez (mostly Suda-
jection rates and the profiles of rejected visa 
nese) are also lured by the promise of finding 
applicants and irregular migrants detected in 
gold in Djado, a hamlet located seven hun-
the Mediterranean.
dred kilometres north-east of Agadez, where 
soil gold was discovered in 2013. Such artisa-
Based on discussions during thematic work-
nal mining carries life hazards and also breeds 
shops held in Africa, AFIC delegates agreed 
the phenomenon of explosive smuggling on 
that irregular migration, terrorism and or-
board regular buses. Regular bus lines in the 
ganised crime must countered using a ho-
ECOWAS region were also associated with 
listic approach. 
drug smuggling as reported by Niger.
Consensus was reached that the securitisa-
Migrants making a maritime crossing continue 
tion and prosecution of smugglers and terror-
to run a high risk of dying in the process. The 
ists is exacerbated by the porosity of borders 
increasing death toll in the Central Mediterra-
and vast areas of terrain in the Sahelian cor-
nean during 2015, however, shows that more 
ridor (adjacent to ECOWAS free-movement 
vessels engaged in rescue operations do not 
space), corruption, opaque criminal structures 
necessarily guarantee fewer deaths at sea. 
and plethora of terrorist networks.
For several West African nationalities, the 
AFIC delegates proposed that fight against 
ratio between illegal border-crossings at ex-
cross-border criminality and terrorism should 
ternal borders of the EU and the number of 
be based on three pil ars: international coop-
EU visas issued approaches 1:1 (e.g. the case 
eration, exchange of intel igence, and the pro-
of Malians in 2014).
vision of training and technical equipment to 
agencies and organisations involved in neu-
tralising these security threats.
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Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
1.  Introduction and methodology
1.1.   Introduction
This growing recognition was also echoed in 
the ‘EU Action Plan against migrant smug-
The Africa-Frontex Intel igence Community 
gling’ (COM(2015) 285 final), which recom-
(AFIC) was set up in 2010 to provide a frame-
mended the AFIC to be further developed 
work for regular knowledge and intelligence 
as a platform for information-sharing and 
sharing in the field of border security between 
joint analysis with third countries in Africa.
Frontex and African countries. The concept of 
this col aboration was broadly based on the 
In 2015, several new countries participated 
model of the Frontex Risk Analysis Network 
in the work of the AFIC. These are predom-
(FRAN) and the two already established re-
inately countries of the Khartoum Process 
gional risk analysis networks (the Western 
and Chad.
Balkans Risk Analysis Network – WB-RAN 
and the Eastern European Borders Risk Anal-
1.2.   Methodology
ysis Network – EB-RAN).
Over recent years, the AFIC has grown and 
In April 2010, a conference initiating this new 
matured as a community of experts. Discus-
network was held in Madrid with the partic-
sions throughout 2014 revealed a clear need 
ipation of representatives of selected African 
for further development of the community 
states from West and North Africa, as well as 
beyond the established model. In particular, 
Immigration Liaison Officers based in some 
work was initiated to create a dedicated and 
African countries. The participants agreed 
secure information-sharing platform that will 
to name the network ‘the Africa-Frontex 
be accessible via the internet. This was de-
Intel igence Community’, in short ‘the AFIC’.
signed to extend the type and number of re-
ports which could be shared within the AFIC 
Fol owing the positive experiences of 2011 and 
and thus used in the drafting of this report.
2012, further joint activities of the AFIC were 
organised in 2013 and 2014. Several work-
Furthermore, AFIC participants decided to 
shops, annual conferences, field visits and 
create sub-regional analytical groups, based 
three joint reports (prepared in English and 
on linguistic, thematic or geographic criteria 
French) testify to the achievements of the 
al owing for workshops to take place in Af-
community.
rica and not only in Europe, as has been the 
case until now.
The AFIC has also gained more visibility out-
side its immediate members by sharing its 
In March 2015, the AFIC held its first work-
knowledge with external stakeholders, such 
shop in Warsaw, where information-shar-
as ECOWAS, the European Commission, the 
ing platform was presented and a training 
European External Action Service, and re-
session was offered to AFIC participants on 
gional initiatives such the Rabat and Khar-
the use of the platform and the new report-
toum Processes and the G5 Sahel (Mauritania, 
ing templates. Two types of reporting tem-
Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad).
plates were agreed upon: Incident Reports 
(to be prepared on an ad-hoc basis) and In-
8 of 52

Figure 1.  Geographical scope of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community
Tunisia
Morocco
Egypt
Mauritania
Cape
Verde
Mali
Niger
Sudan
Eritrea
Chad
The
Senegal
Gambia
Burkina
Faso
Djibouti
Guinea
Benin
Nigeria
Somalia
Sierra
Cote
Ghana
Leone
d'Ivoire
Togo
South
Sudan
Liberia
Cameroon
 
 
Kenya
EU Member States/Schengen Associated Countries
Congo,
DRC
AFIC
Invited as observers in 2015
 
 
Angola
AFIC observer in 2014
Source: Frontex, 2015 
tel igence Analysis Reports (to be submitted 
ports (on a quarterly basis) as well as 
on a quarterly basis).
photographs and other graphic elements.
The workshop participants agreed that the 
AFIC participants also noted that Frontex 
newly-created information-sharing platform 
should explore options on how to bring the 
is a major step forward in the development 
countries of the so-cal ed Khartoum Process 
of the AFIC, as it:
gradually into the community.
 
n Al ows for structured, secure and regular 
information sharing;
The community also used the March 2015 
 
n Enhances the goal of shared ownership 
workshop to agree on the composition of, 
of the AFIC;
and the topics and venues for sub-regional 
 
n Offers near to real-time information shar-
groups. Frontex initially proposed three 
ing among all AFIC participants;
groups; however, the number was later re-
 
n Limits access to the AFIC platform to reg-
duced to two taking into account logistical 
istered users (no access to information up-
issues and available resources. The first work-
loaded by AFIC users to externals, such as 
shop took place in Casablanca between 26 
other EU institutions, commercial compa-
and 27 May 2015.
nies, banks, etc.);
 
n Standardises the format of the provided 
The purpose of this workshop was to dis-
information: Incident Reports (on an ad-
cuss, share and jointly analyse very impor-
hoc basis) and Intel igence Analysis Re-
tant issues linking Africa and Europe: terrorist 
9 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
lese hosts for their excel ent support, hos-
pitality and professional attitude during the 
two events.
Joint analytical work continued throughout 
August and early September when the first 
draft of the annual report for 2015 was fi-
nalised. The draft was also shared with the 
ntex
ro
Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamen-
e: F
tal Rights*, which provided its comments. In 
Sourc
addition, a meeting with International Or-
Figure 2.  Participants from AFIC countries during a training session 
ganization for Migration (IOM) representa-
on the use of a new platform and AFIC reporting templates
tives was held in Dakar (June 2015) as were 
numerous audio or video conferences with 
movements affecting the Sahel and North 
the relevant representatives of the UNHCR, 
Africa and irregular migration linking West 
supported by UNHCR-Frontex liaison office 
Africa with North Africa and the EU. In addi-
in Warsaw.
tion, by organising the first event on the Af-
rican continent, the community also wanted 
A drafting workshop was held in Warsaw 
to test the feasibility of such events in the 
between 8 and 9 September 2015 with the 
future.
purpose of improving the draft’s quality by 
providing additional and more specific infor-
The second workshop took place in Dakar 
mation from AFIC countries and other in-
between 10 and 11 June 2015. The objective 
vited participants. Namely, apart from AFIC 
was to review the functioning of the infor-
participants, nine observer countries (Khar-
*  In order to promote the highest 
mation sharing platform and, more impor-
toum Process + Chad) and experts from dif-
levels of transparency and respect 
tantly, discuss the topics of common interest: 
ferent EU missions in the Sahel region were 
for Fundamental Rights in al  
cross-border crime and the threat posed by 
also invited.
Frontex activities, the Frontex 
Boko Haram.
Fundamental Rights Strategy 
(March 2011) and Article 26a (2) of 
The drafting workshop in Warsaw was also 
the amended Frontex regulation 
The two workshops were conducted in ‘open 
used to further enhance the visibility of the 
(December 2011) mandated 
discussion’ format that al owed for direct and 
community by adopting an AFIC logo (see 
Frontex to create a Consultative 
very productive exchanges. As such, they 
Fig. 5). It will be used in conjunction with 
Forum (CF) comprised of relevant 
provided additional ideas for topics to be ex-
the Frontex logo in accordance with the es-
European and international 
fundamental rights organisations. 
plored in the joint report. These include an 
tablished rules.
The organisations currently 
update on legal travel channels between the 
represented in the CF are: 
EU and the AFIC region.
In addition, AFIC email server was created by 
Amnesty International European 
Frontex and al  participants were provided 
Institutions Office, Caritas 
In order to present a more comprehensive 
with initial training on the use of new com-
Europa, Churches’ Commission 
for Migrants in Europe, Council 
picture regarding this additional topic, Fron-
munication channel. The new emails will be 
of Europe, European Asylum 
tex addressed consular authorities from Ger-
used to reregister all countries in the AFIC on 
Support Office, European Council 
many, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy with 
the information-sharing platform.
for Refugees and Exiles, European 
a specific Request for Information (RFI). Fur-
Union Agency for Fundamental 
thermore, the European Commission and the 
Objectives of this joint report
Rights, International Catholic 
Migration Commission, 
European External Action Service were also 
International Commission of 
addressed with specific RFIs.
Since the publishing of AFIC third annual re-
Jurists, International Organisation 
port in November 2014, AFIC started to be 
for Migration, Jesuit Refugee 
Al  replies to the RFIs and the issues discussed 
seen by policy makers in Brussels as a model 
Service, OSCE Office for 
during the two workshops were ful y inte-
for a successful analytical and information-
Democratic Institutions and 
Human Rights, Platform for 
grated into the present report. Frontex would 
sharing platform. This fourth annual AFIC re-
International Cooperation on 
also like to take this opportunity to express 
port is a further attempt to consolidate this 
Undocumented Migrants, Red 
its gratitude to our Moroccan and Senega-
cooperation model further.
Cross EU Office, and the UNHCR.
10 of 52




ntex
ro
e: F
Sourc
Figure 3.  The first two sub-regional analytical group workshops were also attended by 
representatives of several EU Member States and the European Commission
ntex
ro
e: F
Sourc
Figure 4.  Drafting workshop in Warsaw was very productive with all participants engaging 
in lively discussions
ntex
ro
e: F
Sourc
Figure 5.  Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community adopted a logo that represents core values 
of the community and symbolically brings the two continents closer together
Furthermore, AFIC joint report drafting pro-
ners together and sharing information among 
cess is designed in a way to provide many op-
themselves as they see fit.
portunities for African partners to engage 
in practical implementation of risk analysis 
Lastly, the report should be read in the con-
methodology used by Frontex.
text of all major policy developments re-
garding the management of migration flows 
This annual report is also a culmination of 
between West Africa and Europe and initia-
joint efforts in terms of information exchange 
tives aimed at improving border control and 
and the use of information-sharing platform. 
return capacities of the countries involved 
As such, the report testifies also to the pos-
in the AFIC.
itive developments in bringing African part-
11 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
2.    Irregular  migratory 
movements affecting AFIC 
countries and EU Member 
States
2.1.   Introduction
The dramatic nature of the situation is ap-
parent, especial y given the scale of irregular 
The EU is facing a dramatic and unprec-
migration flows faced by border-control au-
edented irregular migration crisis. More 
thorities in Greece, Hungary and Italy. These 
precisely, with roughly 340 000 il egal bor-
three Member States reported 97% of al  
der-crossings reported until July 2015, the 
cases of il egal border-crossing in the EU dur-
sheer magnitude of the development be-
ing 2015.
comes clear. By comparison, during the same 
period in 2014 (a record year in its own right) 
A significant share of this flow is composed 
‘only’ 123 400 il egal border-crossings were 
of persons coming from countries producing 
reported.
very high numbers of refugees (e.g. Afghani-
stan, Syria and Iraq). This particular flow has, 
In July 2015 alone, there were 107 500 detec-
during 2015, mostly affected Greece on the 
tions of il egal border-crossing, which is more 
Eastern Mediterranean route, and by ex-
than the sum of yearly totals for 2012 and 2013.
tension Hungary and Croatia on the West-
ern Balkan route. The pressure stemming 
Figure 6.  Comparison of different routes used by irregular migrants 
from large numbers of arriving refugees is 
from West Africa in 2015 compared with 2014
also being largely felt by the main destina-
tion EU Member States (Germany, Sweden, 
the UK and France).
Western
Jan-Jul 2015 
Jan-Jul 2014 
Mediterranean
route
In the Central Mediterranean, however, sub-
Eastern
Saharan Africans are the single largest group 
Mediterranean
of persons being detected/rescued. More 
route
specifically, Nigerians, Gambians, Senega-
Western
lese, Malians and Ghanaians are the top five 
Balkan
route
nationalities detected amongst AFIC coun-
try nationals.
Central
Mediterranean
route
Their numbers have been steadily increas-
ing, mostly in the Central Mediterranean 
Grand Total
as shown in Figure 6, which compares the 
numbers of arrivals from West Africa in the 
first seven months of 2014 and the same pe-

5 000  10 000  15 000  20 000  25 000  30 000  35 000  40 000 
riod of 2015.
Source: FRAN data as of 10 August 2015
12 of 52

Figure 7.  Detections of illegal border-crossing at European external borders during July 2015 compared with July 2014
Detections of illegal border-crossing 
at European external borders
July 2014
July 2015
Jan–Jul 2014 Jan–Jul 2015
Eastern Med. route
5 433
49 911
18 395
132 240
Western Balkans route
1 738
34 833
8 089
102 342
Central Med. route
24 107
20 871
88 217
91 302
Other routes (outside the map)
1 286
1 885*
8 768
14 156*
Total EU – Detections
32 564
107 500*
123 469
340 040*
Total EU – Persons (estimate)
31 000
72 000
117 000
261 000
*estimates
Western
Balkan
1 738
34 833
100 000
90 000
80 000
Central
5 433
49 911
Mediterranean
70 000
60 000
Eastern
24 107 20 871
Mediterranean
50 000
40 000
Overall EU long term trend
30 000
Monthly 
20 000
detections 
of illegal 
10 000
border-
crossing
Total
2 0 0 9
2 0 1 0
2 0 1 1
2 0 1 2
2 0 1 3
2 0 1 4
2 0 1 5
Source: FRAN and JORA data as of 10 August 2015
Using knowledge of AFIC experts, contri-
(i)   availability of legal travel channels for 
butions from the European Commission, EU 
AFIC country nationals;
Member States’ consular authorities, regular 
(i )   likelihood of entering the EU without 
reporting from EU Member States and avail-
being returned and the risk of dying en 
able information from debriefing activities of 
route;
Frontex, the current chapter explores under-
(i i)  advice from relatives or friends already 
lying reasons behind these developments. The 
present in the EU and peer pressure;
focus is put on analysing how several key fac-
(iv)  access to smuggling services.
tors have evolved. These include:
13 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
2.2.   Availability of legal travel 
Box 1. Increasing number of bus 
channels
companies offering extensive 
route network in the ECOWAS 

2.2.1. In Africa
region
Travel ing in Africa is greatly facilitated by the 
A novel feature during 2014 and 2015, 
*  The Economic Community of 
existence of ECOWAS* free-movement pro-
according to AFIC experts, is the in-
West African States (ECOWAS) 
tocols and great porosity of the borders. Cit-
creasing market presence of many 
was established on May 
izens have therefore access to a large area of 
bus companies. They compete for 
28 1975 via the treaty of Lagos 
West Africa and the Sahel with roughly 340 
their customers by providing rela-
with a mandate of promoting 
economic integration in 
mil ion inhabitants. The volume of these reg-
tively cheap and thus affordable trans-
all fields of activity of the 
ular movements is difficult to estimate as re-
port for potential y mil ions of persons 
constituting countries. Member 
liable passenger flow data are not available; 
across ECOWAS region.
countries making up ECOWAS 
however, it is likely quite significant.
are Benin, Burkina Faso, 
Rimbo Transport Voyageurs in par-
Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, 
the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, 
Despite the legal framework that was put in 
ticular stands out as the company 
Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, 
place over thirty years ago, ECOWAS nation-
with the most developed network of 
Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, 
als are still facing limitations regarding free 
routes and prices that are quite afford-
Senegal and Togo.
movement. More precisely, there are signif-
able. This company is also frequently 
icant differences among ECOWAS member 
mentioned by irregular migrants upon 
states’ implementing entry controls. Namely, 
arrival in Italy. Its role in facilitating 
ECOWAS member states reserve the full right 
transit through Agadez in Niger is ex-
to refuse entry to anyone from the ECOWAS 
plained in greater detail in Section 2.3.
region on the basis of their national legisla-
tion, which can substantial y differ between 
one another. In some cases, border-control 
officials enjoy absolute discretion to refuse 
egal and Cape Verde) other require travel 
entry to would-be migrants without the need 
documents fol owing the ECOWAS protocols 
to explain their reasons or process the case.
(Ghana and Nigeria). In practice, ECOWAS 
countries’ citizens very often travel without 
These chal enges were also mentioned dur-
any kind of identity documents due to lack 
ing the AFIC workshop in Dakar when a lively 
of basic knowledge of the free movement of 
debate arose over the question of whether 
people within the ECOWAS countries. 
one ECOWAS member state has the right to 
refuse entry to a national of another ECO-
Additional y, with regards to the maximum 
WAS member state on the basis that the per-
period of stay (90 days) travel ing on the ba-
son has no sufficient means of subsistence. 
sis of identity card makes it difficult to confirm 
The debate also demonstrated the possible 
the period of stay as there is no notification 
differing interpretations of the same text 
of entry/exit (stamp or registration system). 
amongst border-control authorities in the 
Thus, in majority of cases this requirement is 
ECOWAS region.
not respected. 
While some countries al ow entry with ID 
The European Commission and its ECOWAS 
cards both on land and air routes on the ba-
counterpart are aware of these many chal-
sis of bilateral or multilateral agreements 
lenges. In fact, in its European Agenda on Mi-
(e.g. between Senegal and Guinea and Sen-
gration, the European Commission proposed 
14 of 52

a 24-mil ion-euro project aimed at ‘maximis-
consular authorities in West Africa result-
ing the development potential of free move-
ing in 213 000 visas issued, predominately, 
ment of persons and migration in West Africa 
by five EU Member States (France, Germany, 
by supporting the effective implementation 
Italy, Belgium and Spain; data do not in-
of the ECOWAS Free Movement of Persons’ 
clude the UK and Ireland) for a region with 
Protocols and the ECOWAS Common Ap-
an estimated 340 mil ion inhabitants. This 
proach on Migration.’ The project covers al  
represented only 1.3% of the total number 
ECOWAS member states and Mauritania.
of short-term visas issued by EU Member 
States (excluding the UK and Ireland) to third 
In its proclaimed objective, the action wants 
country nationals.
to strengthen the capacities of the ECOWAS 
commission to lead an intra-regional dialogue 
In the case of the Democratic Republic of the 
on free-movement and migration issues and 
Congo, visa rejection rate stood at 50% dur-
act as a platform for policy development and 
ing 2014, which was the highest rate among 
harmonisation.
AFIC countries and the second highest for 
any third country in 2014. Other AFIC coun-
Furthermore, the capacities of national in-
tries with consistently high rejection rates 
stitutions of ECOWAS member states and 
(30–40%) since 2011 are Guinea, Mali, Sen-
Mauritania in the areas of migration data 
egal, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. In fact, 
collection and management, migration pol-
there were five AFIC countries among the 
icy development, border management, la-
top ten third countries with the highest visa 
bour migration and anti-trafficking will be 
rejection rates in 2014.
improved.
The fact that visas are hard to obtain even 
2.2.2. Between Africa and Europe
for AFIC representatives was mentioned sev-
eral times during the past meetings of the 
As the recently published European Agenda 
AFIC and reiterated during the AFIC work-
on Migration (COM(2015) 240 final) states, 
shop in Dakar. While in some cases these 
‘a clear and well implemented framework for 
are logistical problems (no Polish consu-
legal pathways to entrance in the EU (both 
late in their country or the need to travel 
through an efficient asylum and visa system) 
great distances for the fingerprinting in ac-
will reduce push factors towards irregular 
cordance with VIS regulation), the biggest 
stay and entry, contributing to enhance se-
concern is the fact that a stamp with ‘visa 
curity of European borders as well as safety 
rejected’ is put in the passport of an unsuc-
of migratory flows.’
cessful visa applicant. This fact alone has a 
potential y detrimental effect if the same 
The fact, however, remains that most of the 
persons wants to travel to Canada, the USA 
countries in the Sahel and West Africa have 
or the Persian Gulf.
the highest visa and asylum rejections rates 
compared to other regions of the world. For 
The AFIC representative from Cameroon also 
example, when it comes to visas, West Af-
mentioned that in some cases people wil  
rica is the region with a visa rejection rate 
change their passport up to four or five times 
almost six times higher than the EU average.
in order to have one without such a stamp. 
In his words: ‘This practice is breeding also 
In 2014, almost one in three visa applica-
identity and document fraud as many try to 
tions was rejected by EU Member States’ 
fraudulently obtain a clean passport’.
15 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Figure 8.  Rejection rates of visas and the number of visas issued to AFIC country nationals in 2014
Visa rejection rate (percentage)
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Tunisia
Egypt
Visas issued
Rejection rate of visas
Niger 
Morocco
Togo
Burkina Faso
Guinea-Bissau
Mauritania
Benin
Cape Verde
Libya
AFIC countries
Algeria
Côte d'Ivoire
Cameroon
Mali
Ghana
Nigeria
Senegal
Guinea 
Congo (DRC)
0
50 000
100 000
150 000
200 000
250 000
300 000
350 000
400 000
450 000
500 000
Number of visas issued
Source: Complete statistics on short-stay visas issued by the Schengen States
16 of 52


15
0
p in 2
orksho
 w
FIC
t A
2.2.3. Regular passenger flow between 
West Africa and Europe

tation a
resen
According to available Eurostat data, the 
oonian p
number of passengers arriving in the EU on 
er
am
flights originating from Benin, Burkina Faso, 
Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, 
rce: C
Sou
Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Togo 
has been steadily rising since 2009. During 
Figure 9.  As visa rejection rates are the highest in West and Central 
2014 this trend reversed as the numbers de-
Africa consular authorities of several EU Member States clearly mark 
creased compared to 2013.
a rejection by stamp affixing a stamp in the passport pages normally 
reserved for visas and entry/exit stamps
This was likely due to flights from Senegal and 
Nigeria carrying fewer passengers to Paris, 
Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid and Brussels 
Box 2.  Impact of introduction of Visa Information 
airports. The largest drop in passengers were 
System (VIS)
on flights to Paris, both Charles de Gaul e and 
Orly airports especial y from June 2014 on-
Facilitation in visa procedure, less visa shopping: with the 
wards, while Madrid also registered fewer 
implementation of the VIS consular authorities can verify also 
passengers from Dakar, albeit with a more 
possible other visa applications of the applicant. This gives a 
moderate decrease.
full image of the profile of the applicant (purpose of stay and 
country of destination). The status of earlier visa applications 
These decreases on direct routes to Europe 
can be decisive in some cases.
are likely down to the ‘Ebola’ restrictions 
and passengers increasingly flying via Turkey 
Reduction of fraud: The fingerprints of the applicant and the 
given that Turkish Airlines increased capacity 
verification in the VIS by linking with other applications, give a 
from Lagos and Dakar in the summer of 2014.
useful control mechanism of the identity of the applicant. This 
limits the cases of look-alikes and identity theft.
In the case of Lagos, Turkish Airlines has in-
Source: Belgian consular authorities in Dakar, Abuja, Abidjan and Yaounde (reply to 
creased its capacity annual y for a number 
the RFI)
Figure 10.  Gradual increase of air passenger flow both from West African countries and 
Morocco to the EU
Air passenger flow from West African and Moroccan airports to EU destinations between 2009 and 2014
5 000 000
4 000 000
3 000 000
2 000 000
1 000 000
0
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Morocco
West Africa
Source: Eurostat as of 26 June 2015
17 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Box 3.   Turkish Airlines have the largest network in Africa
Turkish Airlines has nearly doubled its seat capacity to Africa 
from about 38 000 in 2011 to about 70 000 weekly seats at 
the end of 2014.
Turkish Airlines further expanded during 2015 adding at least 
ntex
six new destinations in Africa. The airline already has the larg-
ro
e: F
est network in the continent among foreign carriers, fol owed 
by Air France and Emirates. By the end of 2015, Turkish Air-
Sourc
lines has approximately 45 destinations in its African network 
Figure 11.  Turkish Airlines advertisement 
across 30 countries.
in Dakar, where passenger numbers on 
Turkish Airlines flights are increasing
Air France has the second largest African network among Eu-
ropean carriers with 34 destinations. Brussels Airlines operates 
of years, however, in the case of Dakar, the 
19 destinations, while British Airways has 18 and Lufthansa 13.
capacity was increased by over 50% in 2014, 
which was not the case in 2013. These di-
Unsurprisingly, several members of AFIC members mentioned 
versions in passenger flow during the sum-
the fact that Turkish Airlines are transporting a growing num-
mer months could account for around 3 000 
ber of their nationals either towards Istanbul or in transit to-
passengers per month not taking the usual 
wards the Gulf region.
direct connections to Europe (calculation 
based on the capacity of aircraft and fre-
Flying to Turkey seems to be fairly easy for many would-be mi-
quency of flights). Also of importance is the 
grants who gain an easy access to the external borders of the EU.
fact that Turkish Airlines have been adding 
capacity on all their flights to Africa, includ-
Importantly, during 2015 significantly more Congolese and Cam-
ing in other AFIC countries (like Cameroon) 
eroonians, Moroccans, Algerians, Nigerians and Ghanaians were 
that are not included in the Eurostat data 
detected en route from Greece through the Western Balkans 
set (see Box 3).
towards Hungary.
Source: centreforaviation.com
Flights from Sierra Leone and Liberia, which 
are not included in the Eurostat database, 
Figure 12.  Lagos and Dakar accounted for most passengers travelling via air route towards 
the EU in 2013 and 2014
Others
Others
17%
20%
Lagos
Lagos
28%
27%
Abidjan
6%
Abidjan
2013
6%
2014
Abuja
12%
Abuja
11%
Dakar
Accra
Dakar
12%
25%
Accra
24%
12%
Source: Eurostat as of 26 June 2015
18 of 52

Figure 13.  The main destination airports from West Africa to the EU were Paris Charles de 
Gaulle, Porto Santo, London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol
Passenger flow between the main West African airports and European destinations during 2014
250 000 
Amsterdam/Schiphol 
Madrid/Barajas 
London/Heathrow 
Paris/Orly 
200 000 
Paris/Charles De Gaulle 
Frankfurt/Main 
Brussels/Brussels-national 
Porto Santo 
150 000 
100 000 
50 000 
0  Lagos 
Dakar 
Accra 
Abuja 
Abidjan 
Bamako 
Praia 
Dakar  
Source: Eurostat as of 26 June 2015
Figure 14.  2009 and 2012 saw a high rates of refusals of entry issued to West Africans 
(principally at London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle) despite relatively low 
passenger flows, but since 2012 refusals of entry have been declining sharply thanks to all EU 
destinations issuing less refusals
Refusals of entry issues to West African countries’ citizens at reporting EU airports between 2009 and 2014
1 550 000 
2 800 
arrivals 
refusals 
2 700 
1 500 000 
2 600 
1 450 000 
2 500 
1 400 000 
2 400 
1 350 000 
2 300 
1 300 000 
arrival to the EU 
Total passenger flow 
2 200 
from West African air routes  
1 250 000 
2 100 
total refusals of entry upon 
1 200 000 
2 000 
2009 
2010 
2011 
2012 
2013 
2014 
Source: Eurostat and FRAN data
Figure 15.  Refusals of entry are gradually decreasing, although each year a surge occurs in 
the final four months of the year
Monthly breakdown of passenger flow (left scale) compared to refusals of entry (right scale) in 2012–2014
passenger flow 
refusals 
160 000 
300 
140 000 
250 
120 000 
100 000 
200 
80 000 
150 
60 000 
100 
40 000 
50 
20 000 


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2012 
2013 
2014 
 Source: Eurostat and FRAN data
19 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
could have further dented this longer term 
lasted until mid-2014. Indeed, during 2013 no 
rising trend of passenger flow in the second 
passengers departed Bamako towards Eu-
half of 2014, since flights between London 
rope in the first five months of the year, co-
Heathrow and Freetown/Monrovia (Brit-
inciding with the beginning of the military 
ish Airways) were suspended between Au-
intervention.
gust 2014 and January 2015, due to the Ebola 
crisis.
2.2.4. Ratios of refusals of entry 
compared to passenger flow

In 2014, most passengers from West Africa 
used Nigeria’s Lagos Murtala Muhammed 
The peak in EU-wide refusals of entry noted 
International Airport to make their way to-
in 2012, was mainly due to London Heathrow 
wards Europe, with around 56% of these 
and Paris Charles de Gaul e airports issuing 
440 000 passengers flying to London Heath-
high numbers of refusals. Since 2012, the re-
row airport, the rest were split between the 
fusals of entry issued by these two major air 
international airports of Paris, Amsterdam 
hubs to West Africans has been declining, 
and Frankfurt.
contributing greatly to the overall decrease 
in refusals of entry issued by Member State 
The second main air hub to the EU from West 
authorities at air borders.
Africa during 2014 proved to be Senegal’s 
Léopold Sédar Senghor International Air-
The highest number of refusals of entry per 
port in Dakar, despite noting the largest de-
1 000 passengers in 2014 were on flights be-
crease in its passenger flow compared with 
tween Lagos and Paris Charles de Gaul e. Re-
any other West African airport under inves-
fusals in Paris were slightly above 3 per 1 000 
tigation (23 782 or 6.7% since 2013).
passengers, which represents a marginal y 
higher rate compared to 2013.
In addition to these two main airports, Gha-
na’s Accra Kotoka International airport with 
Most of these refusals were issued because 
connections to London Heathrow, Frankfurt 
no appropriate documentation justifying the 
International and Paris Charles de Gaul e, as 
purpose and length of stay could be provided 
well as Nigeria’s Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe In-
by the travel er. A disproportionately high 
ternational Airport connecting Paris Charles 
(55%) share of refusals of entry were issued 
de Gaul e, proved to be airports with signifi-
during the last 4 months of the year, which 
cant passenger flows above 180 000 in 2014.
seems to be in line with the general trend 
across reporting EU airports.
The drop in the share of total passengers 
travel ing through Lagos, Dakar and Abuja 
Passengers travel ing from Lagos to other Eu-
seem to have been diverted towards other 
ropean destinations were also refused entry 
airports in the West African region. The main 
in higher ratios than from other departure 
airport witnessing a large surge in passenger 
airports in West Africa. Indeed, authorities 
travel in 2014 was Bamako in Mali. Between 
at London Heathrow airport refused entry 
2011 and 2013, the passenger flow to Paris 
to around 2.7 out of 1 000 passengers while 
dropped from 67 986 (2011) to 38 578 (2012) 
in Amsterdam this ratio was a lower 1.7 out 
to 29 949 (2013). In 2014 however, the pas-
of 1 000. Reasons for refusals were similar, 
senger flow through Bamako bounced back 
in that most passengers were refused for a 
to 68 327. This can be linked to the end of op-
lack of visa or residence permit, or because 
eration Serval, the French military interven-
they could not present suitable documents 
tion in Mali which began in January 2013 and 
to justify their stay.
20 of 52

In contrast, the lowest rates of refusal meas-
ured against passenger flow were between 
Box 4.  Migrants’ testimony
Abuja (Nigeria) and Paris, while Accra (Ghana) 
to Amsterdam fol owed close behind. On 
‘Some of my friends went to Europe and when they came back, 
these connections the refusal of entry ratio 
they had money and bought cars for their family. One day I 
per 1 000 passengers was below 0.5 in 2013 
thought, “I am the same as these people, I should do the same”.’ 
and dropped to below 0.25 in 2014, in other 
(Male, Côte d’Ivoire, 25)
words approximately 1 in 4 000 passengers 
Source: Migration Trends Across the Mediterranean: Connecting the Dots, IOM, June 2015 
were refused entry.
2.3.   Access to smuggling 
services, advice from 
An example given by the AFIC representa-
relatives or friends and 
tives of Niger highlights the aspirational na-
peer pressure
ture of some migratory movements: even 
though the agricultural region of Kantche 
Most irregular migrants from West Africa 
in Niger (on the border with Nigeria) is rel-
who cannot obtain a visa or travel to the EU 
atively rich, people who are relatively wel  
using other legal avenues opt to travel by land 
off still choose to depart. Furthermore, mi-
through Agadez in Niger, where many smug-
cro credits given by the government to local 
gling services are easily available.
women were used to finance trips to Europe 
instead of for its intended purpose.
Evidence from debriefing of migrants in the 
Central Mediterranean during 2015 suggest 
Many in Niger and West Africa view migra-
that many have started their journey after re-
tion to Europe also as a ‘cultural’ phenome-
ceiving information or encouragement from 
non. Some would-be migrants are driven by 
friends or relatives already in the EU. The 
the fame and status migrants gain after they 
suggestion was that it is now fairly easy to 
are able to buy a house or a car upon return 
reach the EU regardless of the heightened 
from Europe. These perceptions of how easy 
risk of dying in the desert or at sea in the 
it is to get rich in Europe are strong.
Mediterranean.
The paradox mentioned by the representative 
This perceived easiness is obviously prompt-
of Niger is that many migrants would never 
ing many new departures as open source re-
accept menial and low-paying jobs in their 
porting suggests that the number of weekly 
own countries but are wil ing to do so when 
arrivals of West Africans to Agadez can reach 
either in transit or already at destination.
around 6 000.
In any case, arriving in Niger and travel ing 
What is interesting is the fact that poverty 
to Agadez is relatively cheap, fast and quite 
is not necessarily the sole factor that influ-
simple. As discussed in further detail below, 
ences a decision to migrate. As suggested by 
migrants need only buy a bus ticket and hop 
*  Migration Trends 
an IOM study*, ‘poverty usual y needs to be 
across the Mediterranean: 
on buses that connect Niamey and Agadez 
accompanied by a perception of inequality or 
Connecting the Dots, IOM, 
with numerous cities in the ECOWAS region.
an appreciation for the fact that something 
June 2015
greater exists’. IOM termed this as ‘aspira-
Many regular bus lines are operating en route 
tional migration’.
from countries like the Gambia, Senegal, Be-
nin, Mali and Ghana to Niger. In the case of 
migrants from the Gambia, there are at least 
21 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
four companies operating buses en route be-
tween the Gambia and the city of Agadez: 
Rimbo Transport Voyageurs (RTV), Sonef, 
Africa Star and 3STV.
For example, it costs around EUR 60 or 
41 000 CFA francs to travel 1 600 km from 
Cotonou in Benin to Agadez in Niger. From 
Dakar in Senegal, RTV is offering tickets for 
EUR 120 for the journey that covers almost 
ntex
ro
3 800 km (see Fig. 16).
e: F
Sourc
Migrants usual y pay for each leg of the bus 
Figure 17.  Hundreds of young Africans wait to board a RTV bus from 
ride separately so that they do not carry large 
Niamey to Agadez in late July 2015. The ticket costs EUR 19
sums of money with them. The money is 
Figure 16.  Main routes and prices of the bus company Rimbo Transport Voyageurs linking many cities in West Africa 
with Agadez 
Algeria
Mauritania
Mali
Niger
Agadez
Senegal
Dakar
Chad
Segou
Niamey
Diffa
Zinder
Bamako
Ouagadougou
Burkina
Guinea
Faso
Benin
Nigeria
Sierra
Leone
Côte
d’lvoire
Ghana
Liberia
Cotonou
Lomé
Accara
Cameroon
Abidjan
Source: Frontex, RTV
22 of 52


transferred using money transfer companies 
along the route.
Nigerien authorities are maintaining several 
checkpoints between Niamey and Agadez. 
Police and soldiers manning these check-
points are often accused of taking bribes 
from smugglers and migrants. In fact, accord-
ystem
ing to Niger’s agency HALCIA (Haute Autorité 
ail s
de lutte contre la Corruption et les Infractions As-
m
similées) corruption remains a major issue. In 
FIC e
its report from 2013 the HALCIA concluded 
iger, A
that payments to security forces and local 
authorities total ed USD 450 per vehicle and 
Source: N
USD 30 per foreign migrant on the route be-
Figure 18.  Regular bus lines are not used only for transport of people 
tween Agadez and the Libyan border. The 
but also drugs
HALCIA mission also found that bribes paid 
by migrants were essential to keep the secu-
rity forces functioning as money earmarked 
in the military budget to buy diesel for ve-
hicles, spare parts and food simply disap-
Box 5.  AFIC Incident Report.
peared in Niamey.
Operation against a migrant smuggling network
This sentiment was echoed during the April 
2015 HALCIA workshop on corruption in the 
27.05.2015 – As part of the fight against Illegal immigration, 
road transport sector. According to the chief 
Nigerien National Police intercepted, at the entrance of the 
of staff of the Minister for Transport of Ni-
city of Agadez, 124 sub-Saharans. They are as fol ows: 12 Gam-
ger, corruption and false travel expenses have 
bian, 15 Senegalese, 45 Nigerians, 2 Bissau Guineans, 10 Malians, 
become common practices in relations be-
1  Guinean, 11 Ivorians, 6 Burkinabe, 21 Ghanaians and 1 Beninese.
tween some road users and those responsible 
for management and traffic control. Further-
Result: The Nigerien authorities have put several buses avail-
more, corruption in the transport sector is 
able to ensure return of the migrants to their home countries.
also manifest in unhealthy practices regard-
Source: Nigerien AFIC delegation
ing issuing of administrative documents, and 
especial y the control of the roads through 
what is commonly cal ed ‘road harassment’.
The issue of corruption is also exacerbated 
by the fact that in practical y all AFIC coun-
tries border guards who are sent to remote 
regions consider this as a form of professional 
punishment and are therefore unmotivated. 
As reported by Cameroon, the approach often 
taken by the authorities to counter corruption 
is to rotate available staff on a regular basis.
23 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
not very expensive as most of the profits are 
Box 6.  Smuggling of explosives on regular bus 
made on transport towards Libya.
connections in Niger
Interviewed migrants, authorities in Niger, 
Authorities in Niger are confronted with a growing problem of 
different NGOs and open sources cite fairly 
explosives being smuggled on regular passenger buses. There 
similar prices for the trip to Sabha – between 
were at least two seizures of large quantities of explosives and 
EUR 180 and 300. Usual y, the money is split 
detonators during July-August 2015. Both cases were discov-
between the owner of the ghetto and the 
ered during routine checks of passengers’ baggage on bus lines 
driver of who reportedly gets around 100 000 
linking Niamey and Agadez. The first seizure was of 96 sticks 
CFA francs or EUR 150 per each migrant.
of explosives, 50 detonators, 10 detonating cords and 6 rol s of 
detonating cords. The second one was very similar regarding 
Those that cannot afford to travel to Libya 
the material however with smal er quantities.
opt to go to Morocco (Algeria/Morocco/
Spain) and in some cases are provided with 
Some AFIC partners expressed their worry (during AFIC work-
Malian passports (visa-free status in Algeria 
shop in Warsaw, September 2015) that these explosives might 
and Morocco) and/or a false UNHCR docu-
also be used for terrorist attacks in the wider region.
ment registering them as refugees is Alge-
Source: Niger, AFIC workshop in Warsaw, September 2015
ria. ‘Rental’ of this kind of documents costs 
between EUR 50 (for a Malian passport) and 
EUR 10 (for UNHCR documents). Malian or 
UNHCR refugee documents are used for 
When buses arrive in Agadez, passengers are 
identification during many road check Alge-
immediately surrounded by people, cal ed 
rian authorities hold on major roads in the 
‘Chasseurs’ offering accommodation in so-
region. Once in Maghnia, close to the Mo-
called ‘ghettos’ and onward transport to 
roccan border, the networks will take care 
Libya. They get a few thousand CFA francs 
of retrieving the documents so that they 
(up to EUR 5) for each migrant they bring to 
can be reused.
the ghetto. Accommodation is reportedly 
The vast majority, however, chooses to go 
to Libya. Some arrivals in Agadez (mostly 
Sudanese) are also lured by the promise of 
finding gold in Djado, a hamlet seven hundred 
kilometres north-east of Agadez, where soil 
gold was discovered in 2013. Such artisanal 
mining not only carries life hazards but also 
breeds smuggling of explosives on regular 
buses (see Box 6).
fer
eorg Ho
rce: G
Sou
Figure 19.  A group of young migrants from Burkina Faso is waiting for 
onward transport in a ghetto in Agadez
24 of 52


Box 7.  EU to help Niger by creating a pilot multi-purpose centre
According to the European Agenda on Migration ‘a 
Such a centre should offer the possibility of medical and 
pilot multi-purpose centre is to be set up in Niger. 
psychological assistance to migrants transiting through 
Working with the IOM, the UNHCR and the Niger 
Niger as well as the host communities. The migrants 
authorities, the centre will combine the provision of 
would be advised on the dangers of irregular migra-
information, local protection and resettlement op-
tion, and provide a realistic view of future perspectives 
portunities for those in need. Such centres in coun-
of life in Europe (existence as an irregular migrant) and 
tries of origin or transit will help to provide a realistic 
inform about credible alternatives to risky journeys.
picture of the likely success of migrants’ journeys, 
and offer assisted voluntary return options for irreg-
According to AFIC representative from Niger persuading 
ular migrants.’
the transiting migrants not to continue their onward 
journey is and will remain an uphill battle. Namely, the 
Whereas the existing four centres in Niger (oper-
authorities in Agadez are dealing with migrants who 
ated by IOM) provide basic assistance to migrants 
are determined to reach Libya and Italy, have invested 
and limited Assisted Voluntary Return and Reinte-
money and reputational capital, are legal y present on 
gration (AVRR) opportunities, the new multi-purpose 
the territory of Niger (ECOWAS free-movement proto-
centre project will offer a more comprehensive range 
col) and in most part are able to finance their onward 
of services aimed at supporting migrants (including 
journeys. Only small minority request return assistance 
returnees) and local host communities, and promot-
from IOM and their transit centre is currently (August 
ing alternatives to irregular migration.
2015) almost empty (capacity up to 1 000 persons).
Box 8.  Niger adopts a tough law against the 
smuggling of migrants. This is the first law of 
that kind in West African countries

The Nigerien Parliament approved a law that increases 
sentences from 1 to 30 years of prison, penalties from 
3 million up to 30 million CFA francs (EUR 4 500–
45 000) for human traffickers and al ows for the sei-
zure of their vehicles.
According to the Nigerien Ministry of Justice, the 
main goal of this law is ‘to protect the country bor-
ders. At these disturbed times, when the organised 
Smaller vans are also transporting would-be migrants from Niamey 
crime sows the terror in our country, it is essential 
to Agadez
that all those who travel have their identity accredi-
Source: Spanish National Police
tation. This law imposes it’.
25 of 52



Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
2.3.1. Growing service industry catering 
prior to 2011 when a lot of Africans were trav-
for transiting migrants in Agadez
el ing to Libya for work.
Thousands of would-be migrants transit 
Unsurprisingly, local officials and inhabitants 
Agadez every month. In fact, given the in-
(according to open sources) view this transit 
creasing weekly arrivals in Agadez and al-
as beneficial to the local economy. Transiting 
most 45 000 that have already irregularly 
migrants spend money on food, water, ac-
entered Italy from Libya (until August 2015), 
commodation, and generally contribute crit-
roughly 100 000 West Africans are expected 
ical y to the local economy. Furthermore, the 
to transit through Agadez in 2015. In a city of 
steady demise of regular tourism prompted 
140 000 people, the numbers are stagger-
many former tour guides to switch and ca-
ing and difficult to ignore. According to open 
ter for the transiting migrants.
source estimates, these numbers are as much 
as four times higher compared to the period 
Attempts to tackle this growing industry 
could spark riots in Agadez. Part of the chal-
lenge for authorities in Niger is also the fact 
that no one person controls the smuggling/
services industry. Already in 2013 Niger’s na-
tional police reported there were more than 
70 smugglers ‘ghettos’ active in Agadez.
2.4.  Libya remains in a power 
vacuum
The current Libyan situation is character-
fer
ised by the col apse of government security 
eorg Ho
structures, even in the west of the country, 
where most of the migrants start their jour-
rce: G
Sou
ney towards Europe. The security vacuum is 
Figure 20.  Water stand in Agadez where locals are selling water 
fil ed by militias, often performing duties in 
canisters to the migrants preparing to travel through Sahara to Libya
their area of influence. They are not bound 
by state law, but rather guided by their own 
interests. These militias range from city and 
district militias to tribal militias, ideologi-
cally motivated militias and criminal gangs. 
The command and control structures often 
function only to a limited extent.
The southern tribes of Libya, the Toubou 
and Tuareg are both engaged in providing 
ke
some border security, in the absence of a 
tanch
central and effective border force. However, 
en S
elements from both tribes are almost cer-
ce: Joch
tainly also involved in the smuggling busi-
Sour
ness themselves, and it is judged that their 
Figure 21.  A migrant is waiting in front of a banking establishment in 
primary interests wil  remain financial.
Agadez for money transfer
26 of 52

Box 9.  Irregular routes as reported by Niger
According to the National Police of Niger, moving to-
Starting from Seguidine, the route is very dan-
wards Libya or Algeria maintains these main routes 
gerous and migrants face a high risk of dying in 
than precedent years:
the desert given the many cases of drivers sim-
n  
Agadez/Arlit/Assamaka/Inguezzam/Tamanrassett, 
ply abandoning migrants;
the main road, which is less risky;
n  
Agadez/Dirkou/Seguidine/Chirfa/Djado/Janet in Al-
n  
Agadez/Arlit/Inguezzam/Tamanrassett (route by-
geria. This route is also very dangerous since most 
passes the police station);
of the journey is done at night with only stars show-
n  
Agadez/Arlit/Tchingalen/Bouss Adrar/Tchiba-
ing the way;
rakaten, where Libyan and Algerian facilitators 
n  
Tchintabaraden/Azanag/Albada/Nabamgaré/
offer packages to Janett (Algeria) or Gath (Libya). 
Assamaka/Tamanrasset/Dabab;
Migrants are housed in places cal ed ‘garage’ that 
n  
Tchintabaraden/Gharo/Tassara/Assamaka/Taman-
belong to the facilitators. Crossing to Algeria or 
rasset/Dabab. The routes departing from Tchinta-
Libya is done in small groups and preferably over-
baraden are becoming more and more important. 
night in order to avoid possible checkpoints;
Often, the transport is provided by vehicles from 
n  
Agadez/Ténéré/Dirkou/Seguidine/DaoTimi/
Libya.
Madama/Toumo/Gatrone/Oubari/Sabahaon. 
Geographical representation of these routes as presented by Niger during the AFIC workshop in Casablanca (May 2015)
State borders
Libya
Oubari
Direction of migration
Janett
Gath
The Niger River
Algeria
Gatrone
Main towns
Capital cities
Tchibarakaten Well
Tamnarasset
Siguidine
Tchingalen
Inguezam
Assamaka
Mali
Dirkou
Bilma
Arlit
Ténéré Tree
Agadez
Niger
Chad
Niamey
Burkina Faso
Nigeria
Benin
27 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
2.4.1. Anatomy of smuggling networks 
Smugglers recovering 
in Libya
Boat left adrift
the rubber boat
The migrant smuggling networks in Libya 
are composed of active and former military/
law-enforcement officers structured in a hi-
erarchical and strict criminal organisation.
It is chal enging for the smugglers to transfer 
migrants to the coastal departure points, as 
they have to move through the various militia 
control points. Due to hostilities and rivalry 
MSF boat ‘Dignity 1’
15
among militias, their control ed areas change 
x, 20
constantly. Therefore, it is indispensable for 
ronte
human smugglers to know which group con-
trols the transit areas at any given moment. 
Source: F
Most probably, the fighting in coastal areas 
Figure 22.  Smugglers towing a rubber boat 
(e.g. over the route between western Tripoli 
back to Libya
and Ras Ajdir) is actual y for control over the 
smuggling routes and the share of the profits.
two types of boats used to cross the Medi-
terranean Sea from Libya to Italy. The choice 
The common structure of these smuggling 
of boat is based on the availability and price 
networks has three levels:
of the vessel.
 
n High level: composed of the leading per-
sons, described as Libyan nationals and 
The type of boat used by the irregular mi-
members of active/former military/po-
grants arriving in Italy from Libya has varied 
lice officers.
since the beginning of 2015. Starting from 
 
n Medium level: middlemen named ‘people 
April an increase in the use of wooden boats 
smugglers’ (usually Libyans) who organise 
has taken place. The migrant smuggling net-
the journey of the would-be migrants and 
works typical y buy wooden boats in Tunisia 
their shelter while in Libya. They confirm 
and to a lesser extent in Egypt. Smugglers are 
the arrangements of the journey (such as 
also increasingly adamant to recover boats 
price, type of vessel, etc.).
used for crossings as clearly shown by Fig-
 
n Low level: members in charge of col ect-
ure 22.
ing new ‘clients’ wil ing to reach the EU, 
as wel  as giving support to the people 
Cooperation between authorities is of 
smugglers during the embarkation pro-
key importance on other routes
cess at the beach. Usual y, these mem-
bers are of the same nationality as the 
In the case of western Mediterranean and 
would-be migrants (Syrian, Sudanese, Er-
Ceuta and Melil a, cooperation between Spain 
itrean, and Somali), in order to be trusted 
and Morocco is also helping to reduce the 
easily by them.
number of irregular migrants. The Moroc-
can Gendarmerie Royale informs that 90 at-
2.4.2. Purchasing boats in Libya
tempts to climb over the fences of Melil a and 
Ceuta involving more than 18 000 irregular 
Thus far in 2015, inflatable dinghies (75% of 
sub-Saharan migrants were recorded in 2014.
the total) and wooden boats have been the 
28 of 52

Box 10.  EU Naval Force – Mediterranean
MISSION
MANDATE
On 23 April 2015, the European Council stressed that 
EUNAVFOR Med (now renamed Operation Sophia) 
the Union will mobilise all efforts to prevent further 
operates in accordance with the political, strategic 
loss of life at sea, tackle the root causes of the human 
and politico-military objectives set out in order to:
emergency in the Mediterranean – in cooperation with 
n  
disrupt the business model of human smuggling 
the countries of origin and transit – and fight human 
and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean;
smugglers and traffickers. On 18 May 2015, the Council 
n  
contribute to reducing the further loss of lives at 
approved the Crisis Management Concept for a mil-
sea In accordance with the Council Decision dated 
itary CSDP operation to disrupt the business model 
18 May 2015 the operation shall end no later than 
of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the 
12 months after having reached Full Operational 
Southern Central Mediterranean (Council Decision 
Capability (FOC).
2015/778 dated 18 May 2015).
The Operation Sophia is conducted in sequential 
As a result, and as part of the EU’s comprehensive 
phases and in full compliance with international law, 
approach to the challenge, on 22 June 2015 the EU 
including humanitarian, refugee and human rights law.
launched an EU military operation in the Southern 
n  
The first phase focuses on surveil ance and assess-
Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med). The aim 
ment of human smuggling and trafficking networks 
of this military operation is to undertake systematic 
in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels as 
n  
The second stage of the operation provides for the 
well as enabling assets used or suspected of being 
search and, if necessary, diversion of suspicious 
used by migrant smugglers or traffickers. Counter-
vessels.
ing the smuggling and trafficking of migrants is one 
n  
The third phase would al ow the disposal of ves-
dimension of addressing the human tragedy that we 
sels and related assets, preferably before use, and 
see in the Mediterranean Sea. It is also an important 
to apprehend traffickers and smugglers.
contribution to saving lives and improving security 
in the region.
The Council shal  assess whether the conditions for 
transition beyond the first phase have been met, taking 
into account any applicable UN Security Council Res-
olution and consent by the Coastal States concerned.
Source: European Union External Action Service
Moroccan authorities have also dug a moat 
camps of irregular migrants, have reduced 
and have built a high fence on its own terri-
the numbers attempts.
tory in the most vulnerable areas of the pe-
rimeter near the border with the Spanish 
In response, many sub-Saharan migrants 
cities. These fences and moat, combined with 
have changed their modus operandi and are 
implementation of readmission agreement 
increasingly trying to take the sea route to-
between Morocco and Spain, reinforcement 
wards Spain.
of Moroccan Border Guard Units protecting 
the fence and dismantlement of makeshift 
29 of 52



Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
!
! Agadir
Box 11.  Western African route remains effectively 
Canary Islands
closed due to joint efforts of Spain, Senegal, 
!
!
!
Sidi Ifni
!
Morocco and Mauritania
2
!
5
Morocco
!
!
!
1
El Ouatia
!
!
!
!
At the Western African route that connects Senegal, 
Tarfaya
!
Mauritania and Morocco with the Canary Island in 
12 !
!
!
!
Al Ayoun
Spain the numbers remain almost negligible despite 
!
a gradual increasing trends for departures from Mo-
!
! Boujdour
rocco during 2014.
These recent departures are mainly located in Mo-
roccan shores specifical y nearby the ports of Agadir, 
Ad Dakhla
!
!
Sidi-Ifni, El Ouaitia/Tan-Tan, Tarfaya, Boujdour* and Ad 
Source: CCRC, Guardia Civil
Dakhla** (see map).
Due to the effectiveness of the MoUs between Spain, 
Between 2013 and 2014 three cargo vessels, towed to 
Senegal and Mauritania, the last boat (cayuco) which ar-
EU ports for scrapping, were used by sub-Saharan to 
rived on the Canary Islands from Senegal was in 2008 
il egal y enter European soil. This is a very similar modus 
and the last one coming from Mauritanian shores was in 
operandi well-known in other parts of the Mediterranean 
June 2014, as Mauritanian and Senegalese AFIC delegates 
Sea, such as the ports of Turkey and Eastern Mediter-
reported during workshops in Casablanca and Dakar.
ranean, where criminal networks used old cargo ves-
sels to transport irregular migrants towards the EU.
This route is therefore characterised by a high return/
readmission risk for migrants which contributes to the 
Last Senegalese intervention was carried out on 15 
low numbers of departures and low numbers of mi-
February 2015 when Senegalese Marine Commandos 
grants dying. Stil , at least 12 people died during March 
boarded the vessel Dola, sailing under Togolese flag, 
2015 (exposure and dehydration) in two separate inci-
which was escorted and docked at Dakar port.
dents involving boats that have departed from Morocco.
After the operation, 17 members of the crew were ar-
As the route is effectively closed, migrant smuggling 
rested, accused of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and hu-
networks are constantly testing other modi operandi
man trafficking. This vessel was also involved in a piracy 
Hence, in recent years Senegalese authorities have re-
attack against the fishing vessel Lu Rong Yu-Tuan off the 
ported the use of cargo vessels, which have previously 
coast of Ghana (January 2015).
been moored in the port of Dakar, by migrants trying 
to enter il egal y into the EU.
After an in-depth search in the interior of the vessel, 
11 Nigerian would-be irregular migrants were found. 
They were attempting to reach Europe. They started the 
trip hidden as stowaways in the Nigerian port of Lagos.
gation
le
 de
FIC
se A
egale
en
ntex
ro
rce: S
e: F
Sou
Sourc
Vessel Dola assaulted on 15 February 2015 by 
Senegalese patrol boat donated by Spain
Senegalese Special Forces
*  In areas between Tarfaya-Al‘Ayun-Boujdour, AoI in beaches such as Negritas, Blaibilat, Mraijnat and Roka Ariel
**  Ad Dakhla port: attempts in 2014 but no arrivals due to Spanish-Moroccan cooperation (including JO EPN Hera)
30 of 52


Algerian nationals also continue to arrive on 
Spanish shores of Andalucía and Levante. The 
phenomenon cal ed harga (‘burning’ in Ara-
bic) has decreased since 2013, largely due to 
15
0
good col aboration between Spanish and Al-
alo 2
gerian authorities regarding rapid repatria-
 Ind
tion processes. 
rontex, JO
This again shows how important effective 
rce: F
cooperation between transit, source and 
Sou
destination countries is in preventing un-
Figure 23.  Very typical toy boat used by 
authorised departures and thus preventing 
many would-be migrants for crossing 
death at sea and ensuring integrity of legal 
from Morocco to Spain. In 2014, Morocco 
migration channels.
reported a total of 12 267 irregular migrants 
that were prevented from reaching Spain 
The European Commission (EC) is aware of 
by sea (1 746 until April 2015). The main 
this link between effective return policy of 
nationalities were Senegalese (41%), 
persons who are il egal y present on the ter-
Malians (33%), Guineans (12%), Ivorians (9%), 
ritory of the EU or no longer have the right 
Algerians, Ghanaians and Nigerians (all 3%)
to stay (e.g. failed asylum seekers). In its Eu-
ropean Agenda on migration, the EC states 
fused – works imperfectly.’ The EC proposes 
that ‘one of the incentives for irregular mi-
several key actions in this regard, including to 
grants is the knowledge that the EU’s return 
reinforce and amend the Frontex legal basis 
system – meant to return irregular migrants 
to strengthen its role on return.
or those whose asylum applications are re-
Figure 24.  Illegal border-crossings of Algerian nationals in Spain and effective returns of 
Algerian nationals by Spain, comparison between years. Return likelihood is calculated 
using ratio between illegal border-crossings and effective returns performed by Spain. The 
number close to one indicates higher likelihood and therefore higher return risk (year 2015)
1 600
1.10
1 400
0.90
1 200
0.70
1 000
800
0.50
600
0.30
400
0.10
200
0
-0.10
Year 2013
Year 2014
Year 2015 (up to June)
Illegal border-crossings 
Effective return
Return likelihood – right axis
Source: FRAN data as of 7 August 2015
31 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Box 12.  Increasing number of Syrian asylum seekers 
in Ceuta and Melilla

In March 2015, the International Protection and Asylum Offices 
2.5.   Rising number of 
were inaugurated at BCPs in Ceuta and Melil a (Spain). The de-
casualties among migrants
cision came as response to a surge in the number of Syrian fam-
ilies seeking asylum there. The trend started in November 2014.
According to IOM estimates, more than 2 000 
migrants have died during the first seven 
Exponential growth of asylum applications by Syrian nationals in 
month of 2015 trying to cross the Mediterra-
Ceuta and Melil a
nean to reach Europe. This represents an in-
700
crease of 27% compared to the same period 
600
in 2014. Frontex reporting from the Joint Op-
500
eration Triton for the same period suggests 
400
190 confirmed fatalities (recovered bodies).
300
As in 2014, the overwhelming majority died 
200
in Central Mediterranean route connecting 
100
Libya and Italy. When it comes to this tragic 
0 Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
loss of life one must note the fact that 86% 
2014
2015
of all interceptions in the Central Mediter-
Source: FRAN data as of 7 August 2015
ranean until the end of July 2015 were out-
side operational area of JO Triton and 90% 
The route fol owed by these Syrian asylum seekers is Syria/Leb-
of these cases were done as search and res-
anon/Algeria/Morocco (Nador)/Spain (Melil a or Ceuta).
cue (SAR – after receiving a cal ).
Different modi operandi used by Syrians to enter Ceuta and Me-
What is also interesting is the fact that on 
lilla have been detected: They range from document fraud, 
the route from Libya to Italy there were al-
mostly by using genuine Moroccan passports of residents of 
most exactly the same number of persons 
Tetuan and Nador (no visa needed, impostor method, reported 
that were rescued/intercepted during 2015 
by Frontex) to posing as Moroccan goods carriers. The impos-
and the reference period in 2014. However, 
tor method started to be used by Syrians already in May 2014 
there were roughly 100 more incidents (551 
when Spanish authorities reported the first 72 cases.
in 2014 and 657 in 2015) to which authorities 
had to respond in 2015, unfortunately result-
No Syrian national was detected for trying to storm the fences at 
ing in the previously mentioned 27% increase 
the two Spanish cities. Furthermore, Spain reported 478 cases of 
of the estimated number of casualties. In ad-
Moroccan passport being used by Syrian impostors in the period 
dition, geographical location of these inter-
between 2014 and the first half of 2015 while more than 2 800 
ventions moved further south as indicated 
Syrian asylum applications were submitted in Melil a alone only 
by Figure 25.
during eight months between November 2014 and June 2015. 
This difference would indicate that many are able to enter Me-
In May, the operational area of Frontex JO 
lil a undetected (successful y posing as Moroccans for example).
Triton 2015 was extended closer to Libya. In 
addition, the number of assets in this area 
There are still hundreds of Syrians in Moroccan city of Nador 
were increased. Through the whole period 
waiting to enter Spain through Melil a BCP. According to Mo-
Italian authorities continued with their na-
roccan intervention during AFIC workshop in Casablanca, alto-
val operation ‘Mare Securo’.
gether there are more than 5 000 Syrian refugees in Morocco. 
Moreover, the decision to open Asylum offices in Ceuta and Me-
Importantly, the EU naval operation EUNAV-
lilla has acted as an additional pul  factor.
FOR Med was approved in July 2015, and sev-
eral additional naval vessels were deployed 
32 of 52

Figure 25.  In some areas, in particular those of Zuwara and Misrata, detections have moved 
closer to the Libyan coast
Detections of migrants’ boats up to 31 May 2015 (blue spots), and detections reported between 1 June to 26 July 2015 
(green spots)
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Tunisia
EPN Triton 2014/2015 
01 Jan - 26 Jul 2015
Libya
Detections
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P 01 Jun - 26 Jul
!
P 01 Jan - 31 May
Triton operational area
Extended operational area
 
 
Source: Frontex
in the operational area of JO Triton and the 
Figure 26.  Deaths in the Central 
Libyan SAR area.
Mediterranean, by region of origin of 
migrants perished while making the sea 
In addition, four vessels belonging to various 
crossing between 1 January and 14 July 2015
NGOs (Sea-Watch, Norwegian Society for 
Search and Rescue, Medecins Sans Frontieres, 
MENA
14%
and Migrant Offshore Aid Station) continued 
Sub-Saharan 
Africa
their patrol ing close to the main departure 
Horn 
46%
of Africa
areas in Libya.
18%
Despite these efforts and many more addi-
tional vessels engaged in rescue operations, 
new tragedies occurred in August 2015 when 
at least 340 people died. One incident that 
Breakdown 
unavailable/
took place only 15 nautical miles from Libyan 
Unknown
shores where 25 people died was soon fol-
22%
Source: IOM
33 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Box 13.  Inhumane treatment prompts return of 50 Sierra 
Leoneans from Libya

Some 50 Sierra Leoneans had travel ed by land to Libya through 
irregular means, in a bid to cross over to Europe. They were 
vy
taken to the Southern City of Sabha where they were subjected 
alian Na
to inhuman conditions by the facilitators. At the request of the 
e: It
Government of Sierra Leone and in coordination with the Libyan 
Sourc
authorities and the Sierra Leonean embassy, IOM helped 35 of 
Figure 27.  Dramatic rescue of a migrant by 
these Sierra Leonean migrants stranded in Libya to voluntar-
the Italian Navy on 12 August 2015. At least 
ily return home from the south of the country through Tripoli.
50 people could not be saved and were 
Source: Sierra Leonian AFIC delegation
declared missing
with many more vessels now engaged in 
rescue operations it is simply impossible to 
Box 14.  IOM: Migrants in Libya suffer many types of abuse
effectively rescue all as there are often mul-
tiple simultaneous rescue operations requir-
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has col-
ing high level of coordination.
lected the testimonies of more than 2 000 migrants from West 
Africa and Central Africa recorded between January and Sep-
The increasing death toll during 2015 is there-
tember 2014 two transit centres and assistance for migrants in 
fore highlighting possible paradox. That is to 
Niger (Dirkou and Arlit).
say, more and more vessels engaged in res-
cue operations is not necessarily a guaran-
The migrants from Senegal, the Gambia and Mali, are mostly 
tee for reduction of number of people dying.
young men, married, who left their own country for Libya to 
find job opportunities. Only some migrants from Benin, Libe-
In addition, operational intel igence from JO 
ria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo chose Algeria as 
Triton 2015 suggests that Libyan smugglers 
their final destination.
are taking advantage of rescue vessels’ prox-
imity to the shores of Libya and are over-
As the interviewed migrants were returning back to Niger, 
crowding the vessels, with limited amount of 
their statements reflected precarious living conditions in Libya. 
fuel and water as they know that migrants 
Namely, the majority of migrants reported having suffered 
will be rescued very soon. For example, in one 
abuse and threats, including from their employer: the threat of 
incident a Spanish vessel participating in JO 
intervention of law enforcement, confiscation of identity doc-
Triton 2015 was cal ed to intervene roughly 
uments, forced use of drugs and other substances, restriction 
22 nautical miles from the coast of Libya. It 
of movement and physical abuse.
managed to bring to safety 112 persons that 
Source: Profilage de l’OIM: migrants en transit, IOM, January–September 2014
were cramped on a rubber boat. The boat 
was at sea for less than 12 hours with only 
nine 20 litre fuel containers on board. Given 
the engine used in this particular case this is 
lowed by another in which up to 250 people 
only enough for around 12 hours of sub-max-
were declared missing.
imum speed sailing, therefore nowhere suf-
ficient to reach Italian Pelagic islands. This 
These incidents in August 2015 exposed the 
overcrowding and low fuel supplies on un-
enormity of the chal enge. Namely, as the 
seaworthy vessels increases the risk of death 
number of SAR incidents is increasing, even 
at sea by a great deal.
34 of 52



ivil
uardia C
a. G
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io

rs
R
te
PV 
eu
Source: O
Source: R
Figure 28.  A typical incident where a rubber 
Figure 29.  There are between 3 000 and 
boat is overloaded and equipped with 
4 000 residents in ‘The Jungle’, as the 
minimal fuel supplies
makeshift camp outside Calais is called. 
Around 90% of those living there are men, 
Given that sub-Saharan African are the larg-
most of whom are in their late teens or 
est group of arrivals in Italy, most of the death 
early twenties
during 2015 were linked to this group. Ac-
cording the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, 
all hazards. Migrants or refugees that move 
888 individuals from sub-Sahara Africa died 
towards northern Europe often live in ap-
at sea, which represents 46% of all deaths in 
palling conditions, usually in makeshift and 
the Mediterranean during 2015.
improvised camps (e.g. Italy-France border, 
Austria-Germany border). Those travel ing 
Migrants also face constant danger during 
to the UK also risk injury or even their lives 
the crossing of the desert or when in Libya. 
when trying to cross from Calais to Dover.
The discovery of the remains of 30 migrants 
in Dirkou during May 2015 and Boxes 13 and 
Since June 2015 alone at least nine people died 
14 clarify this point further.
while attempting to cross the Euro tunnel. 
The rising death toll is following significant 
While crossing Sahara desert and the Medi-
increases in the number of daily attempts to 
terranean is extremely dangerous, reaching 
enter the tunnel (from 500 in May to 2 000 
Italy does not necessarily means the end to 
in June 2015).
35 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
3.  Cross-border  criminality
3.1.   Introduction
West Africa are highly porous and difficult to 
patrol with border-control authorities often 
Similar to other regions of the world, cross-
suspected of corrupt practices. This in turn 
border criminality in West Africa can be 
further facilitates illegal cross-border flow 
largely divided into two main categories: 
of goods and people both in the region and 
smuggling of people and illicit trade. Illicit 
transiting towards Europe.
trade can be further classified into six main 
non-exhaustive categories:
It is also worth highlighting that West Afri-
 
n Trafficking in human beings;
can criminal networks are non-hierarchical 
 
n Smuggling of natural resources and wild-
informal structures, in many cases linked by 
life: crude oil (bunkering), cocoa, gold, min-
tribal, social or family ties showing a high de-
erals, vital commodities or crops, ivory, 
gree of flexibility. Such loose structure al ows 
horns of rhinoceros and/or other pro-
for members to have exchangeable roles.
tected species;
 
n Smuggling of excise goods: cigarettes 
Most informal groups are composed by net-
(genuine or counterfeit) or fuel;
works of three to six individuals, mainly rela-
 
n Drug trafficking;
tives or friends. There is hardly a permanent 
 
n Smuggling of stolen cattle, stolen vehi-
membership in the criminal group. These 
cles, toxic waste, weapons, firearms and 
characteristics, make these groups highly 
ammunition;
fluid, which in turn makes detection, inves-
 
n Maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
tigation and eventual criminal prosecution 
very difficult.
Il icit trade is often driven by factors such as 
considerable cross-border price differentials 
3.2.   Trafficking in human 
and differences in the legal status of par-
beings
ticular products, taxation of excise goods, as 
well as local, regional and global demand for 
Trafficking in human beings is a demand and 
smuggled goods. In many cases, locals partic-
profit driven crime. Vulnerability of people 
ipating in il icit trade consider their activity as 
alone does not result in trafficking. Factors 
legitimate given the lack of other economic 
that render people more vulnerable to traf-
opportunities. Additional y, most borders in 
ficking include limited economic opportuni-
Figure 30.  Evolution of cross-border criminality
GLOBAL TRENDS
Changing illicit markets Conflict
Limited state reach and protection economies
HISTORICAL CRIME
NEW & EVOLVING CRIME
Drug trafficking
Kidnapping for ransom
Illicit goods
Enviromental
smuggling
Migrant smuggling
crime
Piracy
Human trafficking
Small arms trafficking Corruption
Illicit financial flows
Cybercrime
and money laundering
CRIMINAL ENABLERS
Source: Comprehensive Assessment of Drug Trafficking and Organised Crime in West and Central Africa, African Union, 2014
36 of 52

Box 15. Labour recruitment morphing into a trafficking case
In another typical case of labour recruitment morphing into a 
trafficking case, a women from Sierra Leone paid approximately 
USD 1 480 to recruiters who promised her a nursing job or ho-
tel work in Kuwait. Upon her arrival in Kuwait, however, she 
ties, desperate socio-economic conditions, 
was instead forced to work as a domestic worker for a private 
regional imbalances and violence. The line 
Kuwaiti family. She worked all day, every day without compen-
between people smuggling and human traf-
sation. Her employers forbade her from leaving the house or 
ficking in the case of West Africa is there-
from using a cell phone. The family eventual y returned her to 
fore often blurred as prospective migrants or 
recruiter, taking advantage of a guarantee al owing them to 
guest workers may often end up as victims of 
obtain a refund for domestic workers they are not happy with. 
trafficking once in their destination country.
She ran away from the recruiter to the Sierra Leonean Embassy 
and was placed in a Kuwaiti government-run shelter with ap-
For example, when irregular migration is 
proximately 300 other former domestic workers.
financed by smugglers themselves (debt-
Source: Trafficking In Persons Report, US Department of State, July 2015
financed migration), migrants often find 
themselves exploited en route or in the des-
tination country.
AFIC representatives from Sierra Leone share 
As these debt/labour obligations incurred by 
their growing concern regarding trafficking in 
migrants are easily enforceable by criminal 
persons. In particular, establishment of many 
groups, it can be profitable for smugglers to 
so-cal ed phantom employment recruitment 
finance irregular migration.
agencies. There were at least 20 such agen-
cies with 301 cases of official y confirmed 
Debriefing interviews conducted in the con-
victims of trafficking in human beings (2013–
text of Frontex Joint Operations revealed 
2014). As the case described in Box 15 sug-
several suspected cases of ‘debt bondage’ 
gests, most victims ended up in Kuwait but 
victimisation. They all are linked to Nigerian 
also in Lebanon, Qatar and Europe.
women who were forced to provide sexual 
services in transit countries such as Libya 
3.3.   Document fraud involving 
or Algeria before being transported further 
AFIC nationals and travel 
across the sea to Europe.
documents issued by AFIC 
countries
One interviewee, who had escaped from the 
trafficking network in Libya before travel-
3.3.1.  Most detected AFIC nationals 
ling onwards to Europe alone, described her 
using fraudulent documents
journey in detail starting from her recruit-
ment in Nigeria to the forced travel through 
Moroccan nationals represented the larg-
Niger and Libya. She also described the sys-
est group among AFIC nationals detected 
tem of debt bondage used to coerce the vic-
for document fraud in the EU. In 2014, there 
tims. First, victims are required to pay a fee 
were over 800 Moroccans with fraudulent 
for their travel from Nigeria. Once they leave 
documents and just over 300 in the first five 
the country and begin the journey through 
months of 2015. The trend has been more 
Niger and Libya they are told that they must 
or less stable over the past couple of years.
pay again to ‘regain their freedom’. In this 
way they are forced into prostitution to re-
Most of the Moroccans were detected on 
pay these debts. Once they are transported 
entry to the EU/Schengen area, mostly from 
to Europe they are forced to pay the traffick-
Morocco to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and 
ers an even higher fee to be released.
Melil a, fol owed by arrivals on flights from 
Casablanca (CMN) to Fiumicino (FCO) or 
Brussels (BRU).
37 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
Moroccan nationals often use Spanish docu-
well as mostly counterfeit French and Italian 
ments (ID cards, residence permits, passports) 
visas and residence permits.
or Moroccan passports. Most of abovemen-
tioned documents were abused by Moroc-
Congolese nationals have been mostly de-
can impostors, using genuine documents of 
tected with fraudulent documents on the 
someone else.
routes from Lagos (LOS) to Fiumicino (FCO) 
or on routes to French airports. Congolese 
Nigerian nationals form the second big-
nationals have been also departing from Ke-
gest group reported for document fraud in 
nia or attempting to reach the EU/Schengen 
the EU/Schengen area. The overal  number 
area via Turkey, in particular via Istanbul (IST).
of detections and trends remained stable in 
2013, 2014 and 2015. Just under 800 document 
The route via Istanbul (IST) includes embar-
fraud cases were linked to Nigerian nationals 
kation in N’Djili (FIH) and intended final des-
in 2013 and a very similar figure was also re-
tination of Fiumicino (FCO), Charles de Gaul e 
corded in 2014. Almost two-thirds have been 
(CDG) or Brussels (BRU).
reported on arrival from third countries, in 
particular from Lagos (LOS), fol owed by ar-
Ghanaian nationals were mostly detected 
rivals via Istanbul (IST).
on intra-Schengen air routes between Italy 
and Germany. Those detected on entry to the 
Senegalese nationals rank third among the 
EU/Schengen area are in 50% of cases depart 
AFIC nationals abusing travel documents. 
from Accra (ACC). There are also attempts to 
The overall number of detections oscil ates 
target the EU/Schengen area via Istanbul on 
around 280 cases per year. They are mostly 
the fol owing air routes: ACC → IST → MAD, 
detected on entry to the EU/Schengen area 
MXP, DUS, VIE. Ghanaian nationals were of-
from third countries, in particular from Da-
ten detected presenting counterfeit Italian 
kar (DKR).
residence permits, passports, ID cards and 
fraudulent Ghanaian passports.
Most of the Senegalese attempted to reach 
either Spanish airports, such as Madrid (MAD) 
3.3.2.  Most abused travel documents 
or Barcelona (BCN), or Lisbon airport (LIS) in 
issued by AFIC countries
Portugal. They were often detected travel ing 
with their national passports (impostors), as 
In total, there were approximately 1  400 
fraudulent travel documents issued by AFIC 
Figure 31.  Moroccan and Nigerian nationals were the AFIC nationals most detected for 
document fraud. Overall figures, however, remain stable in the past 2.5 years except for a 
decrease in Angolan and Guinean nationals
Detections of AFIC nationals presenting fraudulent documents, by nationality of the holder between 1 January 2014 and 
31 May 2015
1 200 
1 000 
Entry from third country 
Intra-EU/Schengen 
800 
Exit to third country 
Transit 
600 
400 
200 
0 MAR NGA  SEN COD GHA  CIV CMR  MLI  GIN GMB AGO TGO  LBR  SLE  BEN  BFA  CPV MRT  NER 
Source: European Union Document-Fraud Risk Analysis Network (EDF-RAN) data as of 6 July 2015
38 of 52


countries reported as fraudulent by EU Mem-
ber States during 2013. This figure increased 
Box 16.  AFIC Incident Report. 
by 14% in 2014. The beginning of 2015 seems 
Exchange of Information. Ghana.
to fol ow the trend of previous years. These 
figures, however, include al  persons show-
Drug trafficking
ing fraudulent AFIC documents and not just 
AFIC nationals.
A 26-year-old Kenyan female, claiming to be a businesswoman, 
was arrested at Kotoka International Airport for carrying co-
Around 85% of fraudulent documents issued 
caine into the country. She arrived on a Kenya Airways flight 
by AFIC countries were detected on entry 
from Nairobi, Kenya with approximately 3 kg of cocaine wrapped 
from third countries and the most detected 
and hidden in her luggage. She claimed she was only to de-
documents were passports issued by Mo-
liver the cocaine to someone she did not know but who was 
rocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Guinea and the 
to meet her on arrival.
Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to 
Source: Ghanaian AFIC delegation
the significant increase in the use of genu-
ine Moroccan passports by Syrian impostors, 
this type of document fraud became prev-
ing Benin, Togo and Ghana (as entry points) 
alent also in case of AFIC travel documents.
and Nigeria (as the main centre for distri-
bution and control of the drug by the crim-
3.4.   Drug  smuggling
inal networks).
In July 2015, regional representative for West 
Cocaine originating from South America is 
Africa of the United Nations Office on Drugs 
transported across the Atlantic by sea or 
and Crime (UNODC) estimated that between 
air along the so-cal ed Highway 10, i.e. the 
30 and 40 metric tonnes of cocaine transit 
shortest distance between the two conti-
West Africa every year en route to Europe. 
nents along the 10th parallel.
This represents a decrease from the peak of 
47 tonnes in 2007.
Once it arrives in Africa, it is transported 
northwards towards Europe through the Sa-
According to the UN Secretary General, this 
hara along routes which have been used for 
flow of cocaine in West Africa could have the 
legal and il egal trade for centuries. Also for 
market value of USD 1.25 bil ion in Europe, and 
centuries, these transportation routes have 
would bring West African traffickers prof-
been control ed by tribal groups such as Tu-
its in the order of USD 150 mil ion per year.
aregs and Tebus. Nowadays they use off-road 
vehicles to transport everything, starting 
3.4.1. Routes
from human beings, firearms, narcotics to 
Drug trafficking continues to be the most lu-
crative form of business for criminals. Despite 
the international cooperation and transna-
tional efforts to curb the trafficking of co-
caine, large and small shipments by sea or 
by air, continuously flow from South Amer-
ica (Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Brazil or Co-
lombia) to Europe, through the Sahel region. 
According to information from AFIC partners 
and other sources, three main cocaine hubs 
ivil
a C
can be identified. The first consists of the 
uardi
Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Cape 
ce: G
Verde islands. The second is the Central Sa-
Sour
helian corridor, which covers vast areas of 
Figure 32.  Helicopter intercepted by Spanish authorities after 
Mali and Mauritania (air transport). The third 
crossing the Strait of Gibraltar carrying 200 kg of hashish from 
hub is the Coastal Southern corridor includ-
Morocco to Spanish mainland
39 of 52




Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
cigarettes. As the provision of such services 
Box 18.  AFIC Incident Report. Exchange of Information, 
is a very lucrative business, new players are 
Cape Verde 
violently seeking their slice of the pie: the ter-
rorist groups of the Sahel region.
Citizen of Guinea-Bissau
Cocaine is transported across the Sahel by 
On 15 June 2015 Nigerien Police apprehended, at the Interna-
different routes: through northwestern Af-
tional Airport of Niamey, a citizen of Guinea-Bissau (male aged 
rican countries (Morocco and Mauritania) to 
45, residing in Liberia) for drug trafficking inside of his body. He 
Spain or through Libya to EU Member States 
had swal owed 70 capsules of cocaine weighing 1 241 grammes 
in the Central Mediterranean.
to transport them from Nigeria to Niger on the itinerary La-
gos/Nairobi/Addis Ababa/Niamey.
Morocco, considered as the largest producer 
Source: Nigerien AFIC delegation
of cannabis in the world alongside with Al-
geria, is also the first supplier of this drug for 
the EU market, using Egyptian and Balkan 
criminal networks. To avoid the troubled Mo-
roccan-Algerian border, smugglers use two 
different routes: across the Sahel or fol ow-
ing the Northern coastal path.
International cooperation and exchange 
of intel igence are essential for curbing the 
black market of cocaine, methamphetamine 
and other narcotics. Also, such cooperation 
helps neutralise the criminal networks, forc-
Box 17.  AFIC Incident Report. Exchange of Information, 
ing them to constantly adapt their modi op-
Cape Verde
erandi to maintain the flow of drugs towards 
the EU.
The Airport Anti-Trafficking Cell seizes cocaine at Praia 
International Airport Nelson Mandela
During the workshop in Dakar in June 2015, 
Ghanaian AFIC delegates reported that 
28.05.2015 – Due to Cape Verde’s geographic and strategic po-
drug smugglers are also using Kenya Air-
sition, the country continues being used as a drug transit point 
ways flights to deliver small shipments of 
from South America to Europe. Several ‘couriers’ transporting 
cocaine.
drugs inside their bodies and under clothes were arrested and 
the drug was apprehended by police at airports. Praia Interna-
Likewise, during the AFIC workshop in 
tional Airport has an Airport Anti-Trafficking Cell composed of 
Senegal, delegates from Liberia, according 
Judiciary Police, Borders Police, Fiscal Guard and Customs. In 
with their intel igence analysis, concluded 
this specific case, the suspect was arrested, sent to the Main 
the fol owing concerns on national secu-
Court of Praia and put in prison to await the final trial.
rity matters:
Source: Cape Verdean AFIC delegation
 
n The trafficking of il icit drugs and fake 
pharmaceuticals by Chinese transnational 
criminal organisations in West Africa;
 
n The resumption and reorganisation of ma-
jor drug shipments in Liberia after the Eb-
ola outbreak;
 
n South American criminal groups resurfac-
ing in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau;
 
n Increased possibility of cross-border crim-
inality across the Liberian-Ivorian border 
as the Ivorian elections draw near.
40 of 52


3.5.   Firearms  trafficking
Whilst trafficking in il icit goods, narcotics or 
human beings thrives in the areas of intense 
gation
le
conflict and institutional chaos (e.g. Libya), 
 de
FIC
firearms trafficking flourishes throughout the 
ian A
Sahelian area. This criminal activity responds 
iber
to the demand for armaments in unstable 
rce: L
areas, such as Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina 
Sou
Faso or Côte d’Ivoire, among others. Fire-
Figure 33.  Typical handgun smuggled from 
arms trafficking is of course not limited to 
Guinea and used in armed robberies in Liberia
supplying the needs of criminal networks but 
also those of terrorist groups such as MU-
JAO, MNLA, AQIM, Boko Haram or small se-
Other routes of il egal arms trade have been 
cessionist factions.
detected between other ECOWAS countries: 
from Guinea-Bissau, the Gambia or Guinea 
Thus, particularly after the collapse of 
to Mali, and from Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Le-
Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, the main routes of 
one to Liberia through the coastal corridor 
arms trade run from Libya: to Niger and the 
of the Gulf of Guinea to supply local crimi-
south of Algeria (area of influence of terror-
nal networks.
ist groups such as al-Mourabitoun or AQIM), 
to northern Mali to supply terrorist and sep-
Liberian AFIC delegates expressed their con-
aratist groups (MUJAO, Ansar al-Dine, MLNA) 
cerns about new non-Liberian gunsmiths 
and also from Chad to Nigeria to feed Boko 
emerging in Central Liberia and in the north-
Haram’s needs.
western suburb of the capital, Monrovia.
41 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
4. Regional security threats
Both AFIC workshops in Africa highlighted 
 
n Al-Mourabitoun, MUJAO or Ansar al-Dine: 
that political violence and terrorism in AFIC 
mainly in northern Mali.
countries are mainly linked to: Boko Haram 
activities, attempts of ISIL/Da’ish to establish 
In addition to the above, AFIC workshops also 
itself in the Maghreb/North Africa, a more la-
provided an opportunity to openly discuss 
tent threat of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb 
the issue of young men mostly from North 
(AQIM), and activities of groups such as al-
Africa travel ing to Syria and Iraq to engage 
Mourabitoun, MUJAO or Ansar al-Dine.
in combat. Concerns were voiced that many 
might be travel ing to and from these war 
The absence of state authority and institu-
zones without being identified and thus pos-
tional weakness in vast regions of the Sahel 
ing a serious security risk.
and West Africa, porous borders and an ongo-
ing chaos in Libya continue to be cited by AFIC 
4.1.   Regional initiatives gain 
members as the main obstacles when address-
ground against Boko 
ing the physical threat that these groups pose.
Haram
According to AFIC members and other rel-
After shifting away from insurgent tactics in 
evant sources, the groups mentioned above 
order to seize and hold territory in 2014, Boko 
are mostly operating in the fol owing areas:
Haram terrorist group succeeded in gain-
 
n Boko Haram: mainly in the north-east 
ing control over a vast swath of territory in 
of Nigeria and at its borders with Niger, 
northeastern Nigeria. In fact, during the AFIC 
Cameroon and Chad;
workshop in Dakar, Nigeria reported that 2014 
 
n ISIL/Da’ish: trying to operate in North Af-
was the year of the most violent and inten-
rica, mainly Libya with the Wilayat (prov-
sive activities of Boko Haram. Data on clashes 
ince) in Barqa/Cyrenaica, Sinai in Egypt and 
and casualties reported by diverse special-
Jamaat Jund al-Khalifah in Algeria;
ised open sources confirm this conclusion. 
 
n AQIM: after this Al-Qaida franchise evolved 
from the Algerian terrorist group known as 
In February 2015, the Nigerian government 
the Salafist Group for Preaching and Com-
initiated military operations north of Maid-
bat (GSPC) in January 2007, it mainly oper-
uguri and Mubi. They first liberated towns 
ates in the north of the Sahelian corridor;
along the main road to Baga, up to Mon-
guno, as reported by the Nigerian AFIC mem-
ber. They later captured Baga (where Boko 
Box 19.  Number of terrorist attacks on the rise in North 
Haram had taken control of a Nigerian mili-
Africa and the Sahel
tary outpost and massacred the local popula-
tion), Monguno, Marte, Gamboru-Ngala and 
According to open sources, the documented numbers of ter-
Dikwa. This offensive push was the first ma-
rorist attacks in North Africa and the Sahel during 2014 show 
jor success since minor operations in north-
an increase of the political violence in the area. Thus, the coun-
ern Adamawa during 2014.
tries most affected were Libya with 201 attacks, Mali with 35, 
Mauritania with 27, Tunisia with 27 and Algeria with 22.
In other words, at the beginning of 2015, 
Boko Haram control ed 20 districts of Nige-
42 of 52

Figure 39.  Military operations against Boko Haram at the beginning of 2015 (upper map) 
and changing intensity of the crisis in 2012–2015 (bottom map)
Localities under Boko Haram control
Niger
Localities under government control
Chadian military presence
Abadam
Recent Nigerian military offensive
Kukawa
Baga
Lake Chad
Gashua
Monguno
Marte
Maiduguri
Damaturu
Dikwa
Dutse
Potiskum
Mafa
Gujba
Buni
Yade Konduga
Bularafa
Nigeria
Ashaka
Bajoga
Chad
Chibok
Bauchi
Gulani
Biu
Mubi
Gombe
Jos
Bumsa
Hong
Bama
Song
Sambisa
Banki
Jalingo
Yola
forest
a Mountiains
Gwoza
Limankara
Pulka
Mandar
Gulak
Madagali
100 mi
200 km
Cameroon
Source: Stratfor 2015
Numbers killed
More intense colour
State of emergency since May 2013
in individual attacks
represents multiple attacks
(Adamawa, Borno Yobe)
50 100 200
400
2012  1 663 civilians killed
2013  2 978 civilians killed
Kano
Nigeria
Abuja
Nigeria
Abuja
2014  9 033 civilians killed
2015*  2 146 civilians killed
Maiduguri
Baga
Chibok
Nigeria
Abuja
Nigeria
Abuja
* data as of 24 January 2015
Source: ACLED data, by Prof. Clionadh Raleigh, University of Sussex
43 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
territory around the size of Belgium and the 
Netherlands. 
According to the Nigerian AFIC delegate, this 
decision was taken in cooperation with Chad, 
Cameroon and Niger (Multinational Joint Task 
Force – MNJTF, 9 000 troops) and a clear 
demonstration of commitment to fight Boko 
Haram on the regional level. 
The joint offensive by the MNJTF forces also 
gation
le
rescued 200 girls and 118 women from the 
 de
Sambisa Forest (April and May 2015) and ad-
FIC
ditional 260 women and children in the out-
ian A
iger
skirts of Chalawa vil age in Adamawa State.
rce: N
Sou
With the new and increasing pressure ex-
Figure 40.  Women and children kidnapped by Boko Haram a moment 
erted by the MNJTF, Boko Haram lost con-
after the liberation by Nigerian Special Forces in Sambisa forest
trol of additional vil ages and its combatants 
dispersed in the surrounding forests. In do-
ria (a territory the size of Belgium). By mid-
ing so, the group made sure to slow down 
March, they only control ed three.
the advance of the MNJTF with minefields 
and other measures.
The AFIC member from Nigeria also reported 
that the Nigerian military had received more 
4.1.1. Financing of activities and 
sophisticated arms to confront Boko Haram 
recruitment 
and senior officers had also changed their 
strategy, which resulted in these successes. In 
Boko Haram gains finances through diverse 
March 2015, Nigerian Defence Headquarters 
illegal activities such as fake military check-
also declared Adamawa and Yobe States free 
points, kidnapping people for ransom, ex-
from the control of Boko Haram insurgents.
tortion, looting, bank robberies and illicit 
trafficking of arms or other goods. It is es-
While these operations have pushed Boko 
timated that more than 2 000 women and 
Haram forces out of many population cen-
girls have also been kidnapped to be used as 
tres in a substantial portion of northern 
sexual slaves, forced into marriages and re-
Borno State, insurgents dispersed closer to 
cently even used as suicide bombers.
the mountainous Cameroonian border.
During the discussions in both AFIC work-
The new Nigerian president Muhammadu Bu-
shops, Nigerien and Nigerian delegates came 
hari announced in his first speech on 29 May 
to the same conclusion that economic in-
2015 that the Command Centre of Nigerian 
centives are a very powerful tool to recruit 
Military Operations against Boko Haram 
young people, above al  in economical y de-
would be moved from Abuja (capital of Ni-
prived communities. In the geographical area 
geria) to Maiduguri. This move to the larg-
formed by the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Cam-
est city in the north-east of Nigeria, where 
eroon and Niger, poverty and unemploy-
the insurgency is the strongest, was aimed 
ment is widespread. Boko Haram uses money 
at establishing governmental control over a 
and ideology to approach young individuals 
44 of 52

who are more receptive to indoctrination 
and recruitment.
Box 20.  The ‘deadliest massacre’ of Baga
AFIC members also reported that in some 
Between 3 and 9 January 2015, the group Al-
cases Boko Haram also kidnaps people and 
Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’wati Wal Jihad, com-
forces them to fight for them.
monly called Boko Haram, carried out massive 
attacks in the city of Baga and its outskirts, lo-
4.1.2.  Change in tactics – going back to 
cated in the state of Borno, north-east of Nigeria 
roots
near the border with Chad. 
Boko Haram is an ideologically driven 
The storms of attacks began when Boko Haram 
group so setbacks such as loss of territory 
assaulted the Headquarters of the Multinational 
will not lead to its complete disintegration. 
Joint Task Force (MNJTF) containing troops from 
However, these setbacks require a change 
Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. In the days that fol owed, 
in tactics. Rather than acting like a state, 
Boko Haram terrorists were kil ing people in the 
which provides services to its people and 
area. According to an Amnesty International state-
protects its borders, terrorist organisations 
ment, and other sources of information, the town 
without territory use more typical terrorist 
was razed and 2 000 people were killed in the 
tactics – bombing, shooting, assassination 
‘deadliest massacre’ in the history of Boko Haram.
and kidnapping.
Source: Amnesty International
These changes in modus operandi are evidenced 
by a number of terrorist attacks attributed 
to Boko Haram in Nigeria and nearby coun-
tries. Two explosions in Chad, where the MN-
JTF has its headquarters, kil ed 11 people. A 
Box 21.  Pledging alliance to ISIL/Da’ish?
few days later, approximately 150 people died 
in Nigeria: nearly 50 kil ed in a shooting in 
In March 2015, a ISIL/Da’ish’s spokesman said 
Monguno and almost 100 in Kukuwa. The 
that the leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi accepted 
group has been trying to smuggle weap-
the pledge of al egiance (bayat) by Boko Haram’s 
ons through Chad but Chadian police forces 
leader Abubakar Shekau, adopting the name ‘Is-
raided two arsenals, seizing a large number 
lamic State’s West Africa Province’ (ISWAP). Nige-
of arms and gathering intelligence.
rian member of AFIC informed however that there 
is no intel igence so far to establish any relation 
4.1.3. Regional threat
between Boko Haram and Da’ish. Boko Haram is 
a local group, very focused and located in a spe-
Although Boko Haram’s acts of violence are 
cific region which does not have international links, 
mainly concentrated in Borno State in the 
not even with AQIM, Al-Shabbab or other terror-
north-east of Nigeria, the terrorist group 
ist groups operating in the Sahel.
has demonstrated the ability to launch at-
tacks in the territories of Niger and Came-
There were also no confirmed foreign fighters 
roon and even in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. 
among Boko Haram’s troops. Most of the fighters 
are locals from Nigeria or immediate border regions.
In the case of Niger, Lamina and Ungumawo 
vil ages in the Diffa region suffered at least 
40 casualties after Boko Haram staged their 
attacks there. Similar attacks outside Nige-
45 of 52




Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
ria have provoked mobilisation of troops in 
the Diffa region, which meant fewer troops 
in the area of Agadez. This vulnerability could 
have been exploited by migrant smuggling 
networks and other criminal organisations.
gation
le
Boko Haram mainly uses car bomb attacks, 
 de
young girls as suicide bombers and very of-
FIC
ten also ‘moto raids’. This method was de-
ian A
iger
scribed by the Nigerien AFIC member during 
the workshop in Casablanca. Groups of mo-
rce: N
Sou
torcycles reach the target, attack using RPG-7 
Figure 42.  Nigerian refugees in a Nigerien camp
rocket-propel ed grenades and quickly dis-
appear. In fact, Boko Haram might be giv-
ing away motorcycles among the Nigerien 
youths to increase the number of recruits.
Likewise, AFIC members from Cameroon ex-
pressed their concern about the persistence 
of Boko Haram and pointed to a need to dis-
rupt radicalisation and recruitment of local 
gation
le
population. In addition, Cameroon is very 
 de
concerned about Boko Haram members hid-
FIC
ing among refugees. Namely, Cameroonian 
ian A
iger
authorities were able to detect such cases 
in August when two female bombers were 
rce: N
Sou
arrested with explosive devices in a refugee 
Figure 43.  Nigerian refugees in a Cameroonian camp
camp of Minawao (northern Cameroon). As 
female suicide bombers were behind several 
blasts in northern Cameroon in July 2015, the 
regional governor banned the Islamic veil as 
part of counter-terrorist measures.
4.1.4. Humanitarian impact 
In April 2015, the Internal Displacement Mon-
itoring Centre (IDMC) estimated that 1.5 
mil ion people had been forced to flee their 
gation
le
homes in Nigeria. They are either internal y 
 de
displaced or are living as refugees in neigh-
FIC
bouring countries.
ian A
iger
The Nigerian AFIC member reported that Ni-
rce: N
Sou
ger has evacuated thousands of Nigerian ref-
Figure 44.  Nigerian refugees in a Chadian camp
ugees sheltering from Boko Haram fighters 
on Lake Chad’s Karanga Island in May 2015. 
Karanga Island has been used by Boko Haram 
46 of 52

Figure 41.  Displacement statistics for Cameroon
Cameroon: Far North
Chad
Nigeria
–Displaced Population
  (as of 1 June 2015)
Resident Population:
LOGONE-ET-CHARI
  3 945 168
Central
African
Republic
Affected Population
Yaounde
Affected Population
Fotokol
Border Crossing
Republic 
Gabon
Border Crossing
of the Congo
Sites
Ndjamena
Refugee Camp
Kousséri
Refugee Site
Transit Site
NIGERIA
Settlements
Chad
Transit Site
Borders
National
Regions
Departments
Waza
Roads
Amchide
Primary
Kolofata
Ashigashiya
Magdame
Mora
0
25
MAYO-SAVA
km
DIAMARE
Mokolo
EXTREME-NORDMaroua
Minawao
Population: 37 171
MAYO-TSANAGA
NORD
Guider
Source: Natural Earth, SALB, GADM, UNHCR, MapAction, 2015
47 of 52


Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
are no Boko Haram terrorists among the 
refugees. Of those, 650 have been relocated 
to Borno State and the rest to Malkohi IDP 
camp in Yola. Nigerian authorities are cal -
ing for international assistance to mitigate 
the appal ing conditions in these IDP camps.
gation
le
 de
4.2.   Northern Mali remains 
FIC
unstable
ian A
iger
Despite the efforts by Malian authorities and 
rce: N
Sou
the international community, instability per-
Figure 45.  33 Nigerian women and children rescued from Sambisa 
sists in the Northern regions of Mali. On 15 
forest and located at IDP camp of Maiduguri, Borno State
May 2015 a peace agreement was signed in 
Bamako between Malian government and 
to mount surprise attacks in Chad, Came-
the ‘Platform movement’ composed by Co-
roon, Niger and Nigeria itself.
ordination of movements and patriotic re-
sistance fronts I (CMFPR-I), a faction of the 
By the middle of 2015, UNHCR reported the 
Coalition of the People of Azawad (CPA), a 
presence of 74 000 Nigerian refugees in the 
faction of Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) 
Far North of Cameroon (Logone-et-Chari; 
and the pro-government Tuareg militia of 
Mayo Sava, Dimare, Mayo-Sanaga). This rep-
the Pro-unity Self-Defence Group of Imrad 
resents an increase of around 26 000 refu-
Tuareg and Al ies (GATIA), and represent-
gees from 30 December 2014, when there 
atives of two groups of the ‘Coordination 
were 48 000 Nigerian refugees. In addition to 
movement’. 
the Nigerian refugees, there are 81 700 IDPs, 
36 000 returnees and 74 000 Nigerian refu-
However, the core members of ‘Coordina-
gees in the Far North region. These massive 
tion movement’ did not sign the agreement, 
numbers, added to the 200 000 people set-
which led to a serious deterioration of secu-
tled in this region and the refugees form Cen-
rity situation and violent clashes between 
tral Africa Republic, are considered a factor 
the opponents. 
of destabilisation and this situation is over-
whelming the Cameroonian capabilities of 
The Malian AFIC member reported, during the 
security and assistance.
workshop held in Casablanca (Morocco), the 
proliferation of terrorist activities from AQMI, 
Minawao Camp in Cameroon saw an in-
MUJAO and Ansar al-Dine. These groups are 
crease in arrivals as its population rose from 
responsible for destruction of places of reli-
about 30 000 in late 2014 to approximately 
gious worship and attempts to violently im-
44 000 at the end of July 2015. On 5 August 
pose sharia (Islamic law) in the Kidal district. 
2015, Nigeria’s National Emergency Manage-
The Malian member of the AFIC also high-
ment Agency (NEMA) reported that 12 000 
lighted the persistence of terrorist activi-
Nigerian refugees had been returned to Ni-
ties after the French intervention, referring 
geria from Cameroon.
to the operation Serval and the appearance 
of new jihadist or radical groups, such as the 
All the returnees are currently being screened 
Haut Conseil pour l’unité de l’Azawad (HCUA)
by the Nigerian Immigration Service and se-
formed by members of the Al-Qaida-al ied 
curity agencies (DSS) to confirm that there 
Islamist Ansar al-Dine.
48 of 52

International community is supporting the 
government of Mali in its fight against ter-
Box 22.  Regional displacement of people
rorism and political violence. These efforts 
include the United Nations Multidimensional 
As of 31 July 2015 Malian refugees were residing in the fol ow-
Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MI-
ing neighbouring countries: Niger (52 445), Mauritania (49 911), 
NUSMA), EUCAP Sahel Mali mission, the 
Burkina Faso (33 907), Algeria (1 330), Togo (169) and Guinea (27). 
French operation Barkhane and coopera-
Additional 90 000 live as IDPs in Mali’s southern cities, includ-
tion with the USA.
ing Bamako (46 143), Koulikoro (19 101) and Ségou (12 139), and 
just over 16 000 have returned to their homes. The camp in 
The Malian armed forces have also intensi-
M’berra (Mali), at the border with Mauritania, is the most pop-
fied their activities at the border with Côte 
ulous with almost 60 000 people.
d‘Ivoire. For example, near the Sama forest, 
Malian forces neutralised a group of jihad-
ists belonging to Ansar al-Dine, seizing di-
verse weaponry and vehicles.
These groups often operate as criminal net-
works engaged in narcotic trafficking, mi-
grant smuggling activities, kidnapping for 
ransom, looting and all kind of cross-bor-
der crimes in order to finance their activities.
49 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
5.  Conclusions  and 
recommendations
This AFIC Joint Report covers several sub-
While decision on issuing visas is an exclusive 
jects broadly linked to border management 
competence of every EU Member State, AFIC 
which call for measures to be taken in coor-
members agree that currently the thresh-
dination and at different operational levels.
old for obtaining a visa is set extremely high 
compared to other regions.
Possible measures also fit into the recent EU 
actions addressing the chal enges of migra-
Stamping the rejected visa applicant’s pass-
tion (European Agenda on Migration, Agenda 
port with a ‘visa rejected’ stamp should be 
on Security, Action Plan on smuggling, and 
avoided given the existence of the Visa In-
Action Plan on return) and the current dis-
formation System and its impact on reduc-
cussions concerning the scope and deliver-
ing visa shopping and identity fraud.
ables of the upcoming Val etta Summit on 
Migration. The multitude of issues mentioned 
Several nationalities in West Africa have the 
in the preceding analysis can be summarised 
ratio of illegal border-crossings at external 
into the following core blocks:
borders of the EU to the number of visas is-
sued for a legal travel to the EU was very 
Reducing risks that migrants or asylum 
close to 1:1 (e.g. the case of Malians in 2014).
seekers face during irregular migration 
through new framework for legal 
Furthermore, the prevailing profile of re-
pathways
jected visa applicants almost perfectly cor-
responds to the profile of migrants arriving 
The analysis of legal travel channels clearly 
through irregular channels.
points to the fact that travel ing to the EU 
legal y is simply not an option for large sec-
This would indicate that their propensity 
tions of African societies. As mentioned by 
to use irregular routes is to be reduced, the 
several AFIC members, the fact that visa re-
possible new framework within the Mobil-
jection rates are by far the highest for AFIC 
ity Partnerships should be geared towards 
nationals is also perpetuating false and of-
this group of migrants. In addition, circular 
ten exaggerated impression of Europe as a 
migration patterns should be encouraged 
sort of ‘the promised land’.
taking into account EU rules facilitating cir-
cular migration (Seasonal Workers Directive).
To obtain a chance of getting to Europe, many 
young Africans are wil ing to resort to il egal 
Improving effectiveness of rapid 
means. As reported by Cameroon and consu-
return of those who are not eligible for 
lar authorities of EU Member States, these in-
international protection
clude falsification of breeder documents (salary 
slips, passports, birth and marriage certificates, 
It is clear that the lack of effective return of 
etc.), misleading consular authorities about 
persons not eligible for protection is encour-
their intended duration of stay, identity theft 
aging others to try their chances. This can 
and – as a last resort – also irregular migra-
lead to unnecessary human suffering as mi-
tion using the routes described in the analysis.
grants face harassment, exploitation, violence 
50 of 52

and even death while trying to cross the de-
established bilateral arrangements that sev-
sert or the Mediterranean Sea.
eral AFIC countries (e.g. Cameroon or Nige-
ria) have with EU Member States. 
The EU Action Plan against migrant smug-
gling (COM(2015) 285 final) clearly acknowl-
Helping transport companies in Africa to 
edges this by making a link between a lack 
operate responsibly and thus minimise 
of effective return and increasing migrant 
migrant smuggling
smuggling. 
It is clear that the growing travel industry 
In addition, EU Action Plan on return 
can help maximise the development poten-
(COM(2015) 453 final) identifies many AFIC 
tial of the ECOWAS protocols on free move-
countries as possible priority countries re-
ment of persons.
garding readmission building on the ‘more-
for-more’ principle (e.g. Morocco, Nigeria, 
Many bus companies now operate in al  15 
Senegal, Guinea, Mali, the Democratic Repub-
ECOWAS countries and offer a vast network 
lic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia).
of routes (for example Africaada Trans-Con-
tinent or Rimbo Transport Voyageurs) at 
If the ratio between illegal border-crossings 
relatively affordable prices. In doing so, the 
and subsequent returns by the affected EU 
companies play a key role in regional mobil-
Member States in line with the EU Return 
ity and should thus be an important partner 
Directive (2008/115/EC) was improved, fewer 
to consider when AFIC countries are address-
migrants would be wil ing to risk the journey 
ing irregular migratory movements.
as clearly demonstrated by the case of Tuni-
sians in Italy or Algerians in Spain.
Authorities from AFIC countries should 
therefore engage in dialogue and establish 
However, in order to improve this ratio, addi-
partnership with these companies to raise 
tional support from the affected AFIC coun-
awareness and work with them on proper 
tries needs to be secured, taking into account 
implementation of ECOWAS free-movement 
financial, technical and logistical limitations 
protocols.
that many of these countries will have to be 
helped with.
Improving detection of THB victims as 
they cross borders
This could result in possible presence of their 
consular authorities at the main entry points 
Potential THB victims typical y travel either 
where Frontex-coordinated Joint Operations 
alone or in groups of two or three persons. 
are ongoing (mostly Italy and Spain) in or-
If the victim is accompanied by a trafficker 
der to assist with the procurement of return 
during the journey, they often cross the bor-
documentation. Given the complexity of the 
der control separately. They may claim that 
return procedure, a pilot project with one 
they are travel ing with an apparent fam-
or two African countries could be initiated.
ily member.
Such initiatives should be implemented in 
If the victim travels alone, they are usual y 
conjunction with the Commission’s plan to 
picked up directly at the airport by the traf-
provide ‘technical support to countries of or-
ficker (sometimes the ‘madam’). During the 
igin or transit for migrants, to help improve 
interview victims make false statements 
their capabilities to integrate the returnees.’ 
about the travel and their personal and fam-
Furthermore, they should build on already 
ily situation as they present a story learnt by 
51 of 52

Frontex  ·  AFIC Joint Report 2015
heart from the traffickers. Victims can initial y 
To further develop information sharing ca-
appear arrogant or aggressive and refuse to 
pacity, Frontex would be ready to engage in 
cooperate with border guards.
developing technical and institutional capac-
ity using available EU financial instruments.
All these insights should be taken into con-
sideration by border authorities in AFIC coun-
Frontex will also support AFIC partners to ef-
tries when they perform border checks. 
fectively disseminate joint reports and pre-
Frontex should further assist by providing a 
sent the work of the AFIC in regional fora 
handbook and/or risk profiles when available.
(ECOWAS, AU, other). AFIC partners will pro-
vide proposals for regional meetings where 
Further development of the Africa-
this support will be needed.
Frontex Intelligence Community 
The AFIC should also continue to meet in Af-
The AFIC is growing both in terms of its par-
rica at least once per year. Frontex will sup-
ticipants and ability to share information. 
port study visits that could be organised on 
New AFIC mailboxes dedicated to each AFIC 
the margins of such AFIC meetings in Africa.
country have now been added to the already 
introduced information sharing platform. This 
Final y, while this report is mostly focused on 
al ows for more frequent and permanent in-
ECOWAS and Central African region, steps 
formation sharing and more frequent produc-
will be taken to cover also East Africa the 
tion of joint reports (quarterly and annual).
Horn of Africa in future activities of the AFIC.
52 of 52


European Agency for the Management 
For Public Release
of Operational Cooperation 
at the External Borders of the Member 
Risk Analysis Unit
States of the European Union
Reference number: 20937/2015
Plac Europejski 6 
00-844 Warsaw, Poland
TT-01-16-058-EN-N 
ISBN 978-92-95205-21-5 
T +48 22 205 95 00 
doi:10.2819/436478
F +48 22 205 95 01
Warsaw, January 2016
[FRONTEX request email] 
www.frontex.europa.eu

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