Refugees forced to depend on human smugglers: study

A study by the funded in part by the UK government found that European migration policies, by their focus on keeping migrants out, have only lead to migrants undertaking perilous journeys.

Despite condemning the business of people smuggling, European politicians have contributed to its success – that is the takeaway from a recent report by the Mediterranean Migration Research Programme (MEDMIG) of the Center on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford.

The MEDMIG report offers policy recommendations to address the increase in smuggling and trafficking of migrants. These include addressing the reception and protection needs of migrants regardless of nationality and opening up more possibilities of legal entry into the EU for asylum seekers.

Since early 2015, the number of asylum-seekers traveling to Europe from Africa and the Middle East has risen dramatically, and many of these recent migrants have relied on human smugglers to help them cross international borders illegally. Smugglers often provide migrants with false travel documents or arrange for transportation, including passage over the Mediterranean Sea.

These smuggler-facilitated journeys are dangerous. The UN Refugee Agency reports that 3,740 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, making 2016 the deadliest year on record for this route.

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