Will people smugglers protect you on your journey?

Flüchtlingsboot im Mittelmeer
Rubber boat with refugees in the Mediterranean Sea ©dpa

NO! Be aware that smugglers belong to organised criminal networks. All they really care about is earning money. Many won’t care if you get hurt or even die on the journey. If you plan on coming to Europe and Germany illegally, you’re putting your life at risk.

Irregular migration is a dangerous decision – relying on traffickers may result in serious harm

The horrific stories on dangers of the journey are vast: From being abducted and sold by traffickers to dying of a lack of air in the back of large trucks or drowning in the Mediterranean due to overflowing and crowded boats – you have likely heard these stories yourself.

And, indeed, many of them are unfortunately true. UNHCR, for instance, has collected some of these stories from Ethiopian and Somali refugees and migrants in its project “Telling the Real Story”. Many migrants from other parts of the world have experienced the same hardships. Many say they would not have made the journey if they had known what awaited them.

Read and listen to an example given by Filmon from Eriterea, who was abducted and tortured after being kidnapped close to the Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan.

Telling the Real Story gives migrants a voice who have experienced similar stories and who talk about the often unsuspected and daunting hardships and dangers of Tahriib.

People smugglers are criminals

It is important to understand that people smugglers are criminals. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNIDC) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons outlines some of the most common ways smugglers may exploit those that dare to take on the journey:

Victims (are) compelled to act as beggars, forced into sham marriages, benefit fraud, pornography production, organ removal, among others.

“sexual exploitation and forced labour are the most prominent” but there are also numerous other forms such as “victims compelled to act as beggars, forced into sham marriages, benefit fraud, pornography production, organ removal, among others.”

Although not all smugglers aim at having this kind of power over you and exploit your wish for a better future in such a violent way and instead promise to “only” take you on their boat or lead you through the desert, they are still doing so for profit. The smaller the boat, for instance, the cheaper people smugglers could buy it and the more likely it will capsize.

If you have suffered from torture, abuse or other forms of psychological and physical harm, the German government may provide you with medical aid.