Refugees and Smugglers

“The clear indication from Frontex that the tightening of border control at the land crossings most widely used by Syrians has diversified Syrian migration to more dangerous routes, to more hazardous periods during the year, and in the process, to the hands of professional smugglers, is not mentioned within an EC (European Commission) discourse. EC discourse thus provides a diversion away from its own practices of border control, while using smuggling as a focal point for legitimising further securitising moves. While restrictions of land border crossings have driven Syrians to the use of smugglers, EC discourse portrays the smuggling as the reason for the increase in restrictions, and border control as the means of ensuring the safety of both migrants and European citizens.”

“A tough stance against smugglers resolves the conflict between protecting the citizen, as a ‘member of the state’, from external threats, and protecting the refugee, as a ‘member of a universal rights system’ from the threat of the organised criminal. Ultimately, such a stance reinforces a discourse of the refugee as a victim, but the path to refuge as a threat” (Svanberg 2015).

Media strikes us daily with news of the consequences of the smuggling of refugees and other migrants, and many are vocal in condemning the acts of brutal smugglers. Rarely, however, are the EU border policies creating a market for smugglers critically questioned, or the EU held accountable.


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