Mixed migration flows are a common phenomenon in the Horn of Africa. In 2017, consistent with previous years, the most popular route out of the region by volume was eastwards: across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to Yemen with onward movement to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. In 2017, IOM estimated that almost 100,000 migrants crossed into Yemen from the Horn of Africa. The route’s continued popularity – despite crossing Yemen’s devastating war zone – is remarkable and underscores the extent that migration is viewed as a livelihood strategy by some migrants and communities.
Looking north, Europe continues to be a major destination for migrants of the region. A combination of actions taken in transit countries contributed to a significant reduction in the numbers that arrived on its shores in 2017. However, there are still high numbers of migrants from the region currently in Libya and other destinations along the route as for example Sudan or Egypt.
Turning south, the route towards South Africa is also popular, particularly for young Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis. However, the number of migrants entering the Republic of South Africa (RSA), as a major country of destination along this route, has dropped significantly. Possible reasons put forward for the decline include xenophobia and policy change aimed at curbing irregular migration to RSA