Jointly with the Institute for Security Studies, the Global Initiative published Breathing Space (Nov 2016) as part of a research project on human smuggling from Africa to Europe, funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF). Our research team sat down with smugglers themselves in Libya, Turkey, in the Sahel and in Sub-Saharan Africa to understand who are the smugglers behind Europe’s migration crisis, to understand how they operate, what drew them into the trade, and how they are responding to international community efforts to end illicit migration.

The €6billion agreement reached between the European Union (EU) and Turkey on migration achieved a dramatic drop in the number of crossings and stopped a fast-growing criminal industry in its tracks. But smugglers interviewed for this paper are watching closely for signs of a change of tack, and not without reason. The Erdogan administration has been progressively at odds with the EU as it finds itself hemmed in by growing internal dissent, multiple terror threats and a failing economy. The breathing space provided by the arrangement is running out and the EU does not seem to have a credible alternative in the event of a collapse.

About the authors
Tuesday Reitano is deputy director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and a senior research consultant for the Institute for Security Studies. Tuesday has extensive experience as a policy specialist for the UN. She serves as an independent expert to the EU on human smuggling, is the lead author of a 2016 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study on the smuggling of migrants from Africa to Europe; and co-author with Peter Tinti of Refugee, migrant, smuggler, saviour, a book that documents the human smuggling industry behind Europe’s migration crisis. Tuesday is based between Beirut, Lebanon and Geneva, Switzerland.

Mark Micallef is executive director of Migrant Report, a non-profit project designed to investigate and document migratory flows and smuggling networks. The NGO is involved in grounded research in Libya, Turkey, Greece, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mark has been engaged with African migration to Europe for more than a decade as a journalist, news editor and researcher. He has reported extensively on the subject from Libya, Malta, Turkey, Brussels and Italy, carrying out investigations, analysis and extensive interviews with politicians, stakeholders, asylum-seekers and smugglers. He is based in Malta.

Picture: ©ISS

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