Human smuggling from Conflict Regions

 27 May 2015


The seminar ‘human smuggling from conflict regions’ focuses on three themes: 1) the social organization of human smuggling from conflict regions, 2) EU policy initiatives and law enforcement efforts relating to irregular migration and their effects, 3) the migrants’ concerned and their individual trajectories. It is commonly believed that human smuggling organizations facilitate the sudden influx of refugees from conflict regions such as Syria and Eritrea to specific countries of reception in the European Union. The dramatic media images of boats packed with migrants crossing the Mediterranean confirms the involvement of organized human smuggling organizations. These recent developments leads to the questions about the nature and conduct of organized networks which refugees may use during their travels. For this reason, this seminar will firstly discuss to what extent the travels are fragmented or not. Do these immigrants exclusively make use of criminal organizations or also of their social network, such as family members and friends? Secondly, the seminar will discuss if and how these migration flows are detected and controlled and how it impacts criminal investigation of irregular migration. The former Dutch Secretary of State Teeven expressed that he does not consider it an EU obligation to save the lives of immigrants irregularly crossing the Mediterranean. In the meantime countries as Greece and Italy as well as the European Union through Frontex focus on guarding EU outer frontiers while controlling on irregular migration and preventing immigrants from drowning in the sea. What do these policies mean in practice? Which actions does it translate to? Which implications does it have for immigrants who wish to apply for asylum? And which human or other costs are associated with it? Finally, the seminar will focus on the immigrants themselves. We will explore how immigrants from conflict regions such as Syria experience their travels and discuss what type of immigrants may enter the EU. What trajectories have the migrants taken, how much hardship have they endured and to what extent do they themselves regard the people who assisted them in crossing the border to be criminals? Do war criminals or possible terrorists ‘hide’ amongst asylum seekers from conflict regions and how do governments deal with this threat? During the seminar an international group of experts will present recent research which covers the above topics. The morning session will be in English, while the afternoon session is in Dutch. Organisation: R. Staring & J. van Wijk