- Title: People smugglers make $35 bln a year on migrant crisis -IOM head
- Date: 31st May 2017
- Summary: ESTORIL, PORTUGAL (MAY 31, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION FOR MIGRATION, WILLIAM LACY SWING, SAYING: "I can tell you in 2015 we had 3,700 dead, 2016 was 5,000 and we are very close to 1,600 already this year. Now, let's be careful because those are the people we know who died, how many other bodies are submerged in the Mediterranean or buried in the sands of the Sahara? That we don't know, but it's probably many, many, more. And that's the tragedy and this is why we are so concerned to try to caution migrants about smugglers. The smugglers are really the big problem; this is what's keeping people in detention centres. Because that's how they make their money."
- Embargoed: 14th June 2017 18:12
- Keywords: migrants smugglers Mediterranean William Lacy Swing Europe Libya migrant crisis
- Location: ESTORIL, PORTUGAL, IDOMENI, GREECE, AND AT SEA
- City: ESTORIL, PORTUGAL, IDOMENI, GREECE, AND AT SEA
- Country: Portugal
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0026J679ZB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:People smugglers make about $35 billion a year worldwide and they are driving the tragedy of migrants who die trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday (May 31).
Increasing numbers of desperate migrants from Africa and elsewhere are dying as they try to reach Europe from Libya, coaxed to do so by smugglers as they wait in detention centres.
The death toll of people crossing the Mediterranean has reached 1,700 so far this year before the summer when many more often make the journey, up from 3,700 in 2015 and 5,000 last year, said IOM head William Lacy Swing.
"Now, let's be careful because those are the people we know who died, how many other bodies are submerged in the Mediterranean or buried in the sands of the Sahara?" he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on migration.
People smuggling now represents the third largest business for international criminals, after gun and drug trafficking, he said.
Libya has become a major point of departure for migrants from Africa, where lawlessness is spreading six years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi and migrants say conditions at government-run migrant centres are terrible.
After visiting Libya in March, Lacy Swing said his organisation is ready to return international staff to Libya to handle migrant centres but has so far not been allowed to do so by the United Nation.
On Tuesday, the IOM and UN refugee agency UNCHR presented plans in Geneva on boosting operations in Libya. Lacy Swing said the IOM was ready to help the government with Libya's own internally displaced people and work in migration centres.
He said Europe needs to come up with a comprehensive plan on migration "but I don't see it happening any time in the near future, but we'll do everything we can to support them on it."
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