Informing Syrian Refugees about Smuggling: First Findings from the Field

Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development
10 October, 2017

“States have failed to eradicate migrant smuggling networks for decades. Repressing them is not enough. Ignoring them is imprudent.”

“In sum: refugees are barraged by information they neither need nor understand. Meanwhile, smuggling is taboo. Criminals enjoy a privileged position as informants because refugee managers have diligently avoided the topic. By sticking their heads in the sand, governments have relegated the power to inform migratory decisions to criminals.

Accordingly, we propose a policy of information-dissemination targeted at systematically informing refugees of the risks and features of local smuggling operations. Governments should give honest, transparent and reliable information on smuggler prices, operations, recruitment sites, reputations, and – crucially – illegal border-crossing risks and penalties. The only way to strip smugglers of their role as informants is to provide alternative, credible information in these domains. This will deter refugees from risky routes, and discredit smugglers. It will also boost government credibility. Without such an intervention, anti-smuggler repression cannot suffice.”

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