A study on smuggling of migrants: Characteristics, responses and cooperation with third countries

Download File


Optimity Advisors[1], supported by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG Migration and Home Affairs to undertake this study. It involved six months of desk research, interviews and data analysis across selected European Member States and third countries.

Five case studies explored smuggling activities in Greece, Italy, Malta, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria (Lebanon), Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and FYR of Macedonia. The study found evidence of an active market for migrant smuggling services with strong communication networks. The business model is network based, forming active Hubs where the intensity of smuggling activities is greatest. Family and diaspora play an important role, particularly in communications. Operational activities to tackle supply need to be comprehensive, targeted at the Hubs and coordinated across agencies and borders. Activities that only tackle supply could increase risks faced by migrants who are already particularly vulnerable to exploitation and human rights violations.

[1] Matrix Knowledge (including Matrix Insight) formally joined the global consultancy group Optimity Advisors in September 2014. As its European arm, the newly combined business runs the public policy arm of Optimity Advisors’ global operations. For more info go to: www.optimityadvisors.com

Author(s):Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
Publication Date:01 Nov 2015
Geographic Focus:Europe
Go Back