This article explores illegal migration routes and groups across North Africa to Europe. We describe sub-Saharan and cross-Mediterranean routes, and how they changed during the years. We propose an analytical framework for the main factors for these migrations, from local to international and regulatory context. We then describe sea-migrants' nationalities and socio-economic and demographic characteristics, from studies undertook in Tunisia and Morocco. While boat migration represents only a fraction of illegal migration to Europe, it raises humanitarian as well as ethical issues for European and North African (NA) countries, as a non-negligible amount of them end up in death tolls of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, existing statistics show that illegal trans-Mediterranean migration is growing exponentially. Ongoing crises in Africa and the Middle East are likely to prompt even larger outflows of refugees in the near future. This should induce NA countries to share closer public policy concerns with European countries.