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In Migrant Crisis, When Are Smugglers ‘Saviors’?


Last year, the global population of people who had been displaced from their homes topped 65 million. We have heard the stories of those involved – refugees and migrants crossing borders in the dark of night or piling into unsafe boats. However, we know less about the human smugglers who help coordinate these journeys and their complex relationships to migrants. “Smuggling is not necessarily inherently exploitative,” Peter Tinti tells us. “Very few smugglers are doing this work for free, so they are profiting off the desperation of others. However, the only way that many of these people can reach safety is to break the law.”

Tinti has written a book with Tuesday Reitano called Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour. While the book delves into the sophisticated criminal networks involved in the trade and their frequent disregard for human rights, Reitano points out that smugglers are responding to a genuine demand born out of policy failures. “Smugglers are described as profiteers of human misery. Actually they’re profiteers of human aspiration,” she tells us. “They are helping people to achieve things when there isn’t a safe and legal way to do so.”

Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano co-wrote 'Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour'

In this podcast, Tinti and Reitano discuss their years-long investigation and the complex portraits of those involved in this multibillion dollar trade. We hear about the unintended consequences of tougher immigration policies, how migrant journeys can be made safer, and what engaged citizens can do to help.

Additional Resources:

Tinti and Reitano’s book Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour

African Arguments Review

BBC: Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts

Fast Company: Watch The Movements Of Every Refugee On Earth Since The Year 2000

Tinti on Twitter

Reitano on Twitter

Featured Image: Peter Tinti in Libya (May 2017)

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