Sunday

21st Jul 2019

Migrant smugglers mostly Turks, says Europol

  • People continue to use smugglers to help them get into the EU (Photo: Josh Zakary)

Member states are reporting more and more migrant smuggling suspects to the EU police agency Europol.

The spike in reporting, when compared to last year, suggests Turkish nationals ply the migrant smuggling trade more than anyone else.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"What we see is that Turkish suspects smuggle migrants both into the EU and within the EU," an Europol spokesperson told EUobserver earlier this week.

Figures released earlier this month suggest Turks outrank other nationalities as migrant smuggling suspects.

But out of a total 12,000 new suspects reported this year, Europol was able to confirm the nationality of only 3,992.

Of those, it found Turks ranked highest with 423 nationalities, followed by Syrians at 364 and Romanians at 216.

Europol cautioned against drawing any conclusion that would appear to suggest migrant smuggling from Turkey is one the rise.

"The only thing you can assume for certain is that more suspects were reported to Europol by the EU member states," noted the spokesperson.

Asked to respond, the EU commission says the figures refer to people apprehended within EU states and "not suspects involved in migrant smuggling to the EU from third countries".

The EU deal signed with Turkey earlier this year was meant to tackle the smuggling routes into Europe. The commission is set to publish its own assessment of the deal this month.

But Europol also says the nationalities reflect the evolution of migratory routes, as smuggling networks tend to use "local nationals" to facilitate the transport and accommodation of irregular migrants.

Things are only likely to get worse, notes the agency.

It says migratory pressures from Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria into the EU will increase.

More bottlenecks and informal camps in EU states are also likely to emerge.

It says labour exploitation of migrants will increase in both transit and destination countries and smugglers will increasingly use "vessels in poor conditions" that are only able to float for a few hours.

Europol also found that smugglers were adapting to stricter border controls and are now using new routes and methods to evade police and border guards.

"New alternative routes via air, sea and land are increasingly used," it said.

Similar findings were also reported last week by the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a think tank on international development and humanitarian issues.

It said migrants were increasingly using illicit routes into the EU because of tougher border measures and deals with countries like Turkey.

"In 2015, only 35 percent of new asylum applications were from people arriving in Europe by covert means. In 2016, that proportion is projected to increase to approximately 60 percent," said ODI.

EU home to over 5,000 criminal groups

Europol says the figure is more a reflection of an improved intelligence picture rather than an absolute increase in the number of gangs.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

EU dismisses UN call to stop migrant returns to Libya

As the death toll of the Tajoura detention centre airstrike reached 53, including six children, the UN called for a halt to returning people to Libya. The EU - which is helping fund the Libyan coastguard - said no.

Libya: EU first sends migrants back, then deplores deaths

Some 40 died following an attack at a Libyan prison, where people hoping to reach Europe are locked up. The EU commission wants an investigation but remains silent on how it trains Libyans to return rescued migrants to the country.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  2. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  3. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  4. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  5. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  6. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  7. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  8. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us