Migration flows between and within world regions from 2005 to 2010. Line widths indicate the number of migrants (inflows and outflows). Only flows containing at least 200 000 migrants are shown.
Source: Abel, G.J. and Sander, N.10.

Migration to urban areas intensifies pressure on the hinterlands

Globally, it is estimated that 450 million people will migrate from rural to urban areas by 2050. In recent years, there has been a growing acceptance that “environmental refugees” – populations forced to migrate due to the impacts of climate change – are a growing problem. Although there is great uncertainty, some estimate that between 100 and 250 million people (or higher) will be displaced before 2050.
Other factors also drive migration, e.g. land degradation, natural disasters and conflicts. Migration per se is a complex issue and for any given region various drivers can be involved, including economic, political, social, demographic and environmental conditions, all of which are linked in complex ways depending upon local conditions. Migration will be a significant factor on the African continent, which is rapidly changing. As throughout the rest of the world, Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation: in fact, six of 10 counties with the highest rates of urbanisation in the world are in Africa.
To help cities cope with the challenges posed by such an influx (including disrupting local employment, provision of services and cultural impacts) rural development programmes are being developed in an attempt to make rural regions more attractive to youth.
A recent, detailed analysis of UN migration data from 2005 to 2010 depicts some remarkable features of the global migration system. Four major trends emerged (from):

  1. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (the vast majority of African migrants) moved predominantly within the continent. An estimated 665 000 migrants moved within Eastern Africa and 1 million people moved within Western Africa;
  2. Migrants from South Asia and South-East Asia tend to move to Western Asia, North America and (to a lesser degree) Europe. Migrants from Latin America move almost exclusively to North America and Southern Europe;
  3. Migration to and from Europe is characterised by a much more diverse set of flows to and from almost all other regions in the world;
  4. Although the largest flows occurred within or to neighbouring regions, numerous flows go through the centre of the circle, which indicates that long-distance flows are applicable to understanding the redistribution of populations to countries with higher income levels, whereas the return flows are negligible.

Darfur refugee camp in Chad.
Source: By Mark Knobil from Pittsburgh, usa (Camp) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

UNHCR staff assist refugees arriving at the Doro camp in South Sudan, close to the border with neighbouring Sudan. Nearly 50,000 refugees have arrived here in recent months.
Source: By DFID - UK Department for International Development (Working with UNHCR to help refugees in South Sudan) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Irish Naval personnel from the LÉ Eithne (P31) rescuing migrants as part of Operation Triton.
Source: By Irish Defence Forces [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Chad / Darfurian refugees from Sudan / Farchana camp (22 887 refugees, UNHCR figures, 30 September 2011), 1 km north from Farchana UNHCR sub-office located 120 km east from Abeche, located 900 kilometer east from N'Djamena the Chadian capital. The camp is located 56 km from the Sudanese border, and was opened in January 2004. In her family compound, a refugee sorts and cleans millet by getting rid of the dust and herbs. She lets the millet fall from a calabash into a bucket, by gravity. The light wind blows away the dust. / UNHCR / F. Noy / December 2011
Source: By European Commission DG ECHO (Flickr: Darfurians refugees in Eastern Chad) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) use sticks and scraps of plastic to construct makeshift shelters at Intifada transit camp near Nyala in South Darfur. These shelters are characteristic of many IDP settlements in Darfur.
Source: By USAID [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.