Managing Irregular Migration in Ethiopia: A Case for Policies Centering the Right to Development


  • Gebresenbet Fana
  • Sintayehu Firehiwot


Migration, Ethiopia, right to development


Recent years witnessed concerted bilateral and multilateral efforts to
reduce irregular migration. Based on fieldwork conducted in Atsbi
Wenberta, Tigray and Wereda 7 Addis Ketema Sub-City, Addis Ababa,
we argue that the existing policy measures are based on a deficient
understanding of the migration process. Firstly, migrants from Ethiopia
are considered as mechanically responding to ‘greener pastures’
elsewhere. This focus on structural explanations of migration ignores
agency of individual migrants and the impact of established norms on
decision making in some localities. Secondly and more importantly, we
argue that extant policies are geared towards ensuring basic socioeconomic
needs- negative freedoms. Based on this framework, we
argue towards a comprehensive understanding of determinants of
migration and policy making, which puts the migrant and her/his
agency at the center of the analysis. Accordingly, we propose the
advancement of migration policies and interventions which are
centered on the right to development