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Study on smuggling of migrants: characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries

Even though the tackling of migrant smuggling has become a pressing political issue at EU level, it remains a rather under-reported area of research, with scattered and incomplete information available. To date there is no systematic review or evaluation of existing policies counteracting the smuggling of migrants.

It is acknowledged that migrant smuggling can take many forms (e.g. ad hoc smuggling services, migrant smuggling through misuse or abuse of documents, pre-organised stage by stage smuggling) and the actors involved can vary considerably (e,g, coordinators, recruiters, transporters, drivers, enforcers, suppliers). Furthermore, often in response to official policy and operational measures, routes and tactics used by smugglers can change quickly.

In order to address this lacuna of information, it is necessary to study the current institutional arrangements in place and how they work together in combatting smuggling, the characteristics of the phenomenon at present and the existing policies and programmes in place both at the EU level and in non-EU countries.

Research objectives: 
The overall objective of the study is to identify and outline international developments and structures in the area of migrant smuggling towards Europe, as well as existing ways to facilitate intergovernmental exchange, and to support the development and implementation of co-operation initiatives.

More specifically, the study seeks to:

• List and analyse policies, programmes and operational responses implemented by selected EU Member States and selected third countries aimed to fight against, reduce and prevent migrant smuggling to the EU
• Map the characteristics of the phenomenon to establish a comparative picture of its scale, characteristics, trends and patterns. Based on this we can draw comparative assessments of practices in selected parts of the world where smuggling of migrants towards Europe occurs.
• Draw conclusions based on data collection and case study outcomes.

ICMPD is responsible for the implementation of the case study research and the coordination of the network of national researchers who will conduct the field research in the countries covered by the study.

For more information, please see the project description.

Project Duration: 2015
Funding: European Commission (DG Home Affairs)
Project Coordinator: Matrix Insight
Project Consortium: Matrix Insight, European Council on Refugee and Exiles (ECRE) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)
Contact: Veronika Bilger

 

Publications

Final report

Optimity Advisors, ICMPD, ECRE (2015): A study on smuggling of migrants - Characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries. Final report. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

The executive summary is available in English and in French

Country case studies

Erica Aiazzi, Vanessa Iaria, Paola Monzini (2015): Study on Smuggling: Case Study 1: Syria/Lebanon - Egypt - Italy. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

Markus Breines, Michael Collyer, Derek Lutterbeck, Cetta Mainwaring, Paola Monzini (2015): Study on Smuggling: Case Study 2: Ethiopia - Libya - Malta/Italy. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

Damla B. Aksel, Angeliki Dimitriadi, Maegan Hendow, Ahmet İduygu, Aysem Biriz Karacay, Michaela Maroufof, Jenny Andersson-Pucher (2015): Study on Smuggling: Case Study 3: Pakistan - Turkey - Greece. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

Will Huddelston, Aysem Biriz Karacay, Marina Nikolova (2015): Study on Smuggling: Case Study 4: Nigeria- Turkey - Bulgaria. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

Angeliki Dimitriadi, Elena Petreska, Krisztina Rcz, Ivana Simic (2015): Study on Smuggling: Case Study 5: Greece - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - Serbia/ Hungary. Brussels: European Commission, DG Migration & Home Affairs/ European Migration Network.
Link

 

Research staff involved:

 Veronika Bilger
 Maegan Hendow
 Albert Kraler