Migration data in Western Africa

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Western Africa1 has long been characterized by high levels of mobility, a trend that far predates the current configuration of borders established during the colonial era.  An estimated 7.6 million international migrants resided in the sub-region as of mid-year 2020 (UN DESA, 2020), and this number is likely underestimated, as high levels of temporary and seasonal migration common to Western Africa are not fully captured by existing data. In recent times, this movement has been facilitated by regional policies of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), notably the free movement of persons regime that has been put in place since the late 1970s. While more than five out of eight migrants from Western Africa continue to stay within the region, increasing numbers are also moving to different destinations in Africa and beyond in search of job opportunities and better economic prospects.