Who Profits In Business Of Smuggling Migrants From Africa?

Written by Dana Sanchez

We live in an age of social media and so do human smugglers, who openly advertise their services on Facebook transporting migrants from Africa to Europe, according to an AlJazeera video.

Thousands have died on the journey in boats that are sometimes not seaworthy — migrants risking their lives to leave Africa because they cannot do so safely and legally.

Their misery creates a market worth millions of dollars for smugglers, AlJazeera reports. Human trafficking overall is estimated to be worth about $26 billion a year.

Technology is helping the smugglers who provide WhatsApp and Viber contacts, AlJazeera reports. And there’s no shortage of customers.

A trip from Libya to Italy can cost $1000. Travelers from Sudan to Libya may pay another $1700 on top of that, AlJazeera reports. It is a business as well as a human tragedy.

Most journeys right now are across the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 200,000 crossings and 3,000-plus deaths in 2014. But it is a global phenomenon, happening in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Aden, and the Bay of Bengal.

One solution that’s being discussed is the U.S. Marshall Plan of 1948, AlJazeera reports. When the U.S. realized the importance of a prosperous Europe after World War II, it plowed the equivalent of $120 billion into rebuilding the European economy, realizing increased productivity and employment would lead to stability.

Tarek Osma, a political analyst with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, said in the issue of human smuggling, the macro picture is key, and that picture is all about youth unemployment.

It’s an issue of education and finding jobs, he said. In North Africa substantial investment is needed, not just for infrastructure projects but youth unemployment.

How do you keep it sustainable for generations of young Arabs? Small and medium-sized enterprises are key, Osma said. Many East and West African countries have instability and difficult socioeconomic conditions and people desperate to escape. Libya has been the most important point of departure for migrants. “I think Libya will take quite some to time to arrive at stability,” Osma said.