Intention of irregular migration to Europe among Afghans in Iran

Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, University of Tehran and Australian National University
Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi, Australian National University
Rasoul Sadeghi, University of Tehran and National Institute of Population Research, Iran
Peter McDonald, Australian National University

Recent influx of irregular migration from the Middle East and Afghanistan to Europe has considerable social, demographic and political implications for the destination countries. It is, thus, important to examine the intentions and complex drivers and decision making processes of these migrants who are willing to take an illegal or irregular path to migrate to Europe. Iran as host to around 2.5 million Afghans has been a leading source and transit country for irregular migration from Afghanistan to Australia and Europe. This paper aims to analyse data from the Survey of Afghan Migrants in Iran conducted during June-July 2015 in four cities of Mashhad, Tehran, Qom and Isfahan to examine the intentions and actions of Afghan refugees, their sources of information, social networks, communication strategies, and decision making process for irregular migration to Europe and other countries. The questions addressed in this paper include what are the social and demographic characteristics of Afghans who are considering migration to Europe? What are the sources of information for Afghans about their destinations? What are the reasons for choosing Europe as opposed to other potential destinations? What are the planned pathways for migration? And what role do family members and their networks play in the decision-making process? The sample includes 1201 Afghan aged 18-44 the majority of whom were Hazara (63.8%) followed by Tajik (18.8%), Pashtun (8.5%) and other ethnic groups (9.1%). Respondents were asked about their intention and action for migration. Our preliminary results showed that around 35 % did not have any intention or plan to migrate to other countries and preferred either to stay in Iran or return to Afghanistan. Around 39% of respondents considered European countries for migration followed by Australia (22%), Canada and America. Policy implications for concerning potential irregular migration to Europe is discussed.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session 2