Mixed migration

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Mixed migration is a relatively new term – in wider usage in the last decade – which seeks to capture the intertwined and multifaceted drivers of movement of all people, regardless of status. While the crossing of national boundaries is commonly classified as either “forced/involuntary” or “voluntary,” the reality is much more complex and nuanced. A mixed migration lens helps to enlarge the protection space for people on the move who may not qualify for refugee status, or may not have left their countries for reasons laid out in the 1951 Refugee Convention, or regional refugee instruments, but who still might have felt compelled to leave for a combination of interrelated factors, including economic, political, social and religious or ethnic ones. Such individuals  often face the same risks, have similar needs along the journey and travel along the same routes. However, they may fall through the protection safety net, safeguarding of rights, and assistance, because current international legal frameworks reinforce only two concepts: the migrant and refugee.

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and the Mixed Migration Centre’s (MMC’s) 4Mi project provide timely and regularly-produced evidence on mixed migration, the profiles of people on the move, their experiences and needs.

While classical migration data sources hardly record migrants with an irregular status, mixed migration responses record people regardless of their legal status and therefore are well suited to observe irregular migration (IOM, 2020). In recent years, such mixed migration tools have made publicly available considerably more information on mobility, particularly in countries where there was little or no previous knowledge about the topic. For example, through the “Displacement” tab on the IOM DTM website, users can get detailed information on the stocks of those in mixed movements across the globe. Furthermore, on the MMC website, 4Mi interactive allows web-users to explore various data indicators pertaining to the migration journey through interactive visual displays.

To date, there are only a few large-scale quantitative data sources on mixed migration given the hidden, cross-border and mobile nature of such movements, which makes gathering accurate data particularly challenging. Further, the varying definitions of mixed migration impact the data collection, as well as the comparability of the data. 

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