Jointly with the Institute for Security Studies, the Global Initiative published At the edge (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.

In 2015, over 16,000 Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans were caught while attempting to migrate to Europe covertly. Though North Africans are a relatively small portion of the masses of clandestine migrants, they are a critical group to understand. They are the innovators and early adaptors of new methods and routes for migrant smuggling, such as their pioneering in the 1990s and 2000s of the routes across the Mediterranean that now fuel Europe’s migration crisis. Understanding how and why North Africans migrate, the routes they use, and how these are changing, offers insights into how clandestine migration methods and routes in general may shift in the coming years. In shaping better responses to actual dynamics, it is important for countries to proactively address the chronic conditions that drive forced migration before they generate social instability.

At the edge - Trends and routes of North African clandestine migrants

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Matt Herbert

Matt is a research fellow with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and a Partner and Director of Maharbal, a Tunisia based strategic consulting firm. He is a specialist in transnational organised crime, border management, and security sector reform, with a focus on North and West Africa.

Prior to his work with Maharbal, Matt worked on security sector reform in North and West
Africa with Strategic Capacity Group, consulted on security and development issues in East Africa for STATT Consulting, worked on transnational organized crime issues for the state of New Mexico, and served as a policy aide to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

He has authored a number of articles and reports on transnational organized crime, irregular migration, border security, and insurgency with organizations such as the Institute for Security Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Atlantic Council, Washington Post, U.S. Institute of Peace, and World Peace Foundation.

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