People smugglers make about $35 billion a year worldwide and are driving the tragedy of migrants who die trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) told Reuters. Increasing numbers of desperate migrants fleeing from Africa and elsewhere due to conflicts and humanitarian crises are dying as they attempt to reach Europe via Libya, coaxed to do so by smugglers as they wait in detention centres.
The death toll of people crossing the Mediterranean has reached 1,700 so far this year before the summer when many more make the journey, compared to 3,700 for all of 2015 and 5,000 last year, said IOM head William Lacy Swing.
“Let’s be careful because those are the people we know died, how many other bodies are submerged in the Mediterranean or buried in the sands of the Sahara?” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on migration.
People smuggling now represents the third-largest business for international criminals, after gun and drug trafficking, he said.Libya is a major point of departure for migrants from Africa, where lawlessness is spreading six years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi and migrants say conditions at government-run migrant centres are terrible…
Lacy Swing stressed that…”We know historically migration has always been overwhelmingly positive.”
Excerpts from Migrant crisis worth $35 billion a year to people smugglers. Reuters, June 2, 2017