Since 2011 Europe has faced a mounting migration crisis that has played out firstly on its borders, and then within them. A perfect storm of events, including the protracted war in Syria and subsequent mass displacement, instability caused by the Arab Spring, the disintegration of the Libyan state, the withdrawal of international troops in Afghanistan and persistent extremist insurgencies in sub-Saharan Africa, has prompted a scale of human movement that has not been seen since the end of World War II.  In the past four years, more than a million citizens from four regions – the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the extra-Schengen area of Europe – have targeted central and northern European countries to claim refuge and seek new opportunities for themselves and their families. At the time of writing this report, the UN estimates that 700 000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015 alone. They are moving away from conflict, terrorism, repressive regimes and varying degrees of poverty and lack of opportunities towards the relative safety and prosperity of Europe. In doing so, many have put their lives at grave risk, while others have died as they seek to evade heightening physical and political barriers.

Those making the journey to Europe are assisted by a rapidly proliferating set of smuggling networks that have different shifting sets of motives, nationalities, ways of operating and levels of criminality. The failures of Europe and the broader international community allow these smugglers to benefit from exacerbating the crisis by inciting migration and using unscrupulous practices, such as abuse, extortion and violence, to seek profits.

What role do smugglers play?

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Despite deploying task forces, fusion cells and warships, law-enforcement agencies have failed to keep up with the chaotic and rapid multiplication of actors involved in the crisis. The multilateral system has been incapable of providing critical support to the needy, developing political solutions to the various crises or ensuring that legal obligations towards those in need of protection are met.

This report, “Survive and Advance: the economics of smuggling migrants and refugees into Europe” which is a joint publication by the Global Initiative and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), and funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) in Germany, strives to provide a substantial, policy-orientated contribution to the evidence basis around Europe’s current migration crisis.

The report draws upon both the authors’ experience, and that of the Global Initiative Network of Experts, as well as investigations conducted in 10 countries, interviews with law-enforcement and government officials, experts, analysts, practitioners, smugglers and migrants.  The study undertook nearly 200 long-form, semi-structured interviews with migrants in six locations along the main routes to Europe and in migrant destination countries (Libya, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Germany and Sweden). These provided an unprecedented and detailed understanding of the motivations and modus operandi of both migrants and smugglers. By building the evidence base in areas where the least is known, this report seeks to help policymakers chart out a stronger response to the crisis.

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Authors

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.

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Peter Tinti

Peter Tinti is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and independent journalist, focusing on conflict, human rights and organized crime. As part of his work for the Global Initiative, Tinti has written and contributed to several reports on organized crime in the Sahel, narcotics trafficking in Mali, and migrant smuggling networks in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

In addition to his work for the Global Initiative, Tinti’s writing and photography has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and Vice, among other outlets. Tinti’s work covering the conflict in Mali earned him recognition by Action on Armed Violence, which included him on its list titled, “Top 100: The most influential journalists covering armed violence.

He co-authored a book with Tuesday Reitano on the smuggling networks behind Europe’s migration crisis, Migrant, Refugee; Smuggler, Savior, published by Hurst Publishers in September 2016.

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