Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 05.50.28

 

The Security Council will vote this week on an EU proposal to allow military action in Libya’s waters to stop the illicit migration across the Mediterranean.

While addressing these flows is a significant and important challenge, interventions off Libya’s coast alone is unlikely to significantly influence the flow of migrants given the extent of the catchment area, and may in fact increase the flow, as the smugglers already pay scant regard for the fates of migrants once they leave Libyan shores.

This policy brief, prepared in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Global Analysis, is based on interviews and analysis in the region, takes a closer look at the criminal economies of the trans-Sahara.  This indicates that not only is sea-based action going to do little to stop the trade: in fact, it might trigger a greater threat: driving greater profits into the hands of the Islamic State (IS).

Instead, for sustainable solutions, it  is vital that interventions to help boat refugees must be accompanied with targeted analysis on how to reduce the profit from smuggling, and to prevent the rescuing of seaborne refugees from supporting IS’s threat finance business model, which may include areas beyond Libya.

Upstream interventions to reduce the motivation for refugees and migrants to enter the organized crime trafficking chain to Libya should be of greater priority. Not only will this reduce the risk of physical harm to the migrants themselves, but it will also significantly impact IS’s largest threat finance opportunity in North Africa. This can best be done by:

  1. Improving emergency provisions for refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan by substantially increasing aid provided to, and protection of, refugee camps.
  2. Promoting campaigns to inform refugees of risks of abuse, slave labor or even death incurred by engaging the services of migrant-smuggling networks.
  3. Targeting more effectively the smuggling networks and choke points, such as the coast of Lebanon, Sinai, Egypt, and Sudan; or diverting and facilitating migrant flows to land routes. The Sinai should receive particular attention, along with flows from Yemen to this corridor.
  4. Substantially improving intelligence and analysis on routes, choke points, and organizational structures of the migrant smuggling chain as close as possible to the source countries.

In the long term, reducing the number of refugees fleeing conflict zones is the only solution. However, the measures above are short-term actions which can be taken to prevent an increase in threat finance to radical groups, as well as complete destabilization of Lebanon and Jordan and the subsequent funding of armed groups in Sinai, Egypt and Libya.


Libia: economías criminales y financiación del terrorismo a través del Sahara

El consejo de seguridad votará esta semana una propuesta de la UE para permitir la acción militar en las aguas de Libia destinada a detener la migración ilícita por el Mediterráneo.

Abordar estos flujos representa un desafío importante y considerable, pero es poco probable que sólo las intervenciones en la costa de Libia tengan alguna influencia relevante sobre los flujos migratorios dada la extensión de la zona geográfica de actuación; de hecho, podría aumentarlos ya que a los traficantes les importa muy poco a la vida y al futuro de los migrantes una vez que abandonan las costas libias.

Este informe sobre políticas, preparado en colaboración con el Centro para Análisis Globales de Noruega, está fundado en entrevistas y estudios en la región, y presenta un análisis más detallado de las economías criminales a través del Sahara. Este análisis muestra que las acciones navales no sólo van a hacer poco por detener el comercio, sino que de hecho podrían ser el disparador de una amenaza mayor: el aumento de las ganancias de Estado Islámico (IE).

Por el contrario, para lograr soluciones sostenibles, es vital que las intervenciones navales para ayudar a los refugiados estén acompañadas de un estudio específico que analice las formas de reducir las ganancias por contrabando y de evitar que el rescate de refugiados transportados por mar apoye la estrategia de EI y su modelo de negocio, que puede incluir áreas más allá de Libia.

La prioridad debería estar en realizar intervenciones que empiecen en origen, orientadas a disminuir la motivación de refugiados e inmigrantes de ingresar en la cadena de tráfico ilegal. Esto no sólo reduciría el riesgo de daños físicos a los mismos migrantes, sino que además impactaría considerablemente en la mayor oportunidad que tiene EI de conseguir fondos en América del Norte. Esto puede hacerse mediante:

  1. La mejora de los suministros de emergencia para los refugiados en el Líbano, Siria y Jordania, aumentando sustancialmente la ayuda y la protección en los campos de refugiados.
  2. La promoción de campañas para informar a los refugiados sobre los riesgos de abusos, de trabajo esclavo o de incluso muerte en los que incurren al contratar los servicios de redes traficantes de migrantes.
  3. La dirección efectiva de acciones contra las redes de contrabando y los cuello de botella, como la costa del Líbano, del Sinaí, Egipto y Sudán; o mediante el desvío de los flujos migratorios hacia rutas terrestres. El Sinaí debería recibir especial atención, junto con los flujos desde Yemen a este corredor.
  4. La mejora sustancial de los trabajos de inteligencia y de análisis sobre las rutas, cuellos de botella, y estructuras organizacionales de la cadena de contrabando de migrantes, lo más cerca posible a los países de origen.

A largo plazo, la única solución es disminuir el número de refugiados que escapan las zonas de conflicto. No obstante, las medidas mencionadas arriba son de corto plazo y pueden ser tomadas para prevenir el crecimiento de los fondos de grupos radicales, como también una desestabilización completa del Líbano y Jordania y el subsiguiente financiamiento de grupos armados en el Sinaí, Egipto y Libia.

Libya: a growing hub for criminal economies and terrorist financing in the trans-Sahara

Download PDF
Share this article

Authors

Christian Nellemann

Christian Nellemann, PhD, is the Senior officer and head of the Rapid Response Unit and Director of Norwegian Center for Global Analyses. Nellemann has worked extensively in Central, South, East and Southeastern Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Circumpolar Arctic, covering a broad range of environmental and security issues from environmental and transnational organized crime to climate change, pollution, wildlife and marine ecology, food and human security, anti-smuggling, human trafficking, disasters and conflicts, and threat finance.

Nellemann has built training programmes for game scouts and rangers in Africa on tracking and crime scene management, having trained over 1,700 rangers across many countries. He has worked with enforcement training from tactics to strategies, with a special focus on threat finance, interventions and counterinsurgency, with both military and enforcement agencies, including support to UN peacekeeping missions on organized crime and counterinsurgencies.

He has led over 20 global and regional UN assessments including with UNEP, UNODC, INTERPOL, FAO, UNESCO and others. He has contributed to numerous hearings, panels, incident response teams and task forces as an expert for both parliaments, Congress, Supreme courts and different international and government agencies in many countries.

Read more

Tuesday Reitano

Tuesday Reitano is Deputy Director at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and a senior research advisor at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, where she leads the ENACT programme on behalf of the GI. Tuesday was formerly the director of CT MORSE, an independent policy and monitoring unit for the EU’s programmes in counter-terrorism, and for 12 years was a policy specialist in the UN System, including with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Development Group (UNDG) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In this time, she has amassed a wealth of experience in fragile states and development working both with states, civil society and at the community level to strengthen resilience to transnational threats, promote sustainable development and the rule of law. Tuesday has authored a number of policy orientated and academic reports with leading institutions such as the UN, World Bank and OECD on topics ranging from organized crime’s evolution and impact in Africa, on human smuggling, illicit financial flows, and the nexus between crime, terrorism, security and development. Tuesday is the lead author of a forthcoming OECD flagship publication: Illicit Financial Flows: Criminal Economies in West Africa, co-author of Migrant, Refugee; Smuggler, Saviour, a book published in 2016 by Hurst on the role of smugglers in Europe’s migration crisis, and the editor of Militarised Responses to Organised Crime: War on Crime, published by Palgrave in 2017. She holds three Masters Degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Public Administration (MPA) and an MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development (MSc). Tuesday is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with her family.

 
 
Read more

Mark Shaw

Mark is the Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. He is also a Senior Associate of the LSE International Drug Policy Unit, (LSE US Centre), and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cape Town, Department of Criminology, where he previously held the National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security. Mark worked for ten years at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), including as Inter-regional Advisor, Chief of the Criminal Justice Reform Unit and with the Global Programme against Transnational Organised Crime, where he lead projects and provided technical assistance to national governments, bilateral donors and international organisations in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, West Africa, the Sahel and Southern Africa, on security sector and criminal justice reform, and countering transnational threats. A South African national, before joining the UN, Mark held a number of positions in government and civil society where he worked on issues of public safety and urban violence in the post-apartheid transition.  He holds a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and has published widely on organised crime, security and justice reform issues.  

Read more