Since 2012, dramatic changes in the geo-political landscape have created a crisis of unprecedented human migration in the European Union (EU). Key events, the conflict in Syria, the collapse of the Libyan state, and significant vulnerability and instability across the Sahara and the Horn of Africa, have both increased the scale of migration but also the way migrant flows are affecting local communities along key transit routes.
The Mediterranean Sea crossing between North Africa and the EU has officially become the most dangerous border outside of active conflict zones. In the face of this humanitarian emergency, the dominant EU response has been to shore up the border security. However, the stricter the controls, the more likely that criminal groups become involved in facilitating the passage.
Recent research on sub- Saharan Africa indicates that the smuggling of migrants is becoming an increasingly lucrative flow, and consequently, competition for control over key routes is increasing, and smuggling groups are inciting migration from new geographical areas. Drawing on field research in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, this article charts the evolving phenomenon of smuggling of migrants from Africa to the EU and identifies the implications for the EU migration policy.
This original research article was published in the European Review of Organised Crime in 2014. Download the full article here: A Perilous but Profitable Crossing: The Changing Nature of Migrant Smuggling through sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and EU Migration Policy (2012-2015)