My colleagues at the Global Initiative and I have repeatedly argued that securitised responses to human smuggling only exacerbate the problems they are trying to solve, particularly in conjunction with a reduction on legal options for migration.
“Cracking down” on smuggling; securing borders, only make a smuggler more essential for people desperate to move.
This research report, “Human Smuggling from the Horn of Africa” does a deep dive into the political economy of three smuggling “systems”, a network of eight major migration hubs from the Horn of Africa to Europe, attempts to offer policy and programming options for an integrated response to human smuggling.
It argues that you need a combination of efforts – socio-developmental; economic and political to frame security interventions.
Furthermore, particularly in a region like the Horn where regimes are authoritarian and predatory – and thus often a cause of migration itself – working exclusively with states and their institutions carries significant risks.
Unless support to states is complemented by efforts to build up other safety nets in civil society and the diaspora, again the risk is exacerbating exactly the problem that we are hoping to solve.