The Changing Dynamics of Cross-border Human Smuggling and Trafficking in the Mediterranean

Moving from the understanding of the two phenomena of human smuggling and trafficking, which are close to one another but conceptually different, this report discusses the extent to which old and new realities in the Mediterranean region have an impact on regional and cross-regional migration flows, with special attention devoted to the analysis of new trends in the smuggling market along two routes, namely the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean one. This overview of the main dynamics and practices concerning “mixed migration flows” in the Mediterranean region is compounded by an original perspective that sheds light on some judiciary inquiries and proceedings that have been able to reconstruct the overall structure of the smuggling circuit.

Paper produced within the framework of the New-Med Research Network, October 2015.

Roma, IAI, October 2015, 71 p.
Publication date: 


1. The Impact of Instability on Intra-Regional and Cross-Regional Migration Flows
1.1 Smuggling of migrants and trafficking: phenomena and their definition
1.2 Regional instability and the increasing relevance of smuggling networks
1.3 Smuggling networks in the Mediterranean region: some general features
1.4 Smuggled asylum-seekers: key features of the Syrian and Eritrean cases

2. The Evolution of the Central Mediterranean Smuggling Route from Libya to Italy
2.1 Trends, routes, and smuggling practices
2.1.1 The origins of the route from Libya to Italy
2.1.2 The internal structure of smuggling networks
2.1.3 The land routes to Libya
2.1.4 The temporary reduction of the Libyan route and its effects
2.2 Current modus operandi of criminal networks and facilitators
2.2.1 The geographical evolution of the routes
2.2.2 Smugglers and other exploiters of migrants
2.2.3 A changing environment for the smugglers

3. Eastern Mediterranean Smuggling Routes and Egypt as a Hub
3.1 Trends, routes, and smuggling practices
3.1.1 From the Horn of Africa to Egypt
3.1.2 From Egypt to Europe
3.2 Modus operandi of criminal networks and facilitators along different routes
3.2.1 From the Horn of Africa to Egypt
3.2.2 From Egypt to Europe
3.2.3 From Turkey to Europe

Concluding Remarks

Research area