Prices vary, depending on destination and means of transport. From Turkey to Greece for example, it’s about €1,600 (US$1,966) via inflatable boat, €2,400 ($2,950) by fishing boat and €3,200 ($3,932) on board a tourist boat. The cheapest is by land, about €800 ($900) to Italy or Austria if they’re squeezed into a container on truck.
That’s according to a secretly recorded conversation shared by France 24 Observers in which a human smuggler describes his trade. From a transcript of the recording:
Right now about 80 percent of our clients are Syrian, the rest are Iraqi, Iranian or Afghan. They rarely have a specific destination – we send them to Italy or Austria. They may then choose to go on to other countries on their own. Prices vary greatly between human slingers – it really depends on how much money the slinger himself is willing to spend to secure passage for his customers. If a slinger wants to spend very little money, well, there’s more risk the customers will be caught. And if the client gets arrested or died, who cares? They’ve already received part of the money up-front, so they never lose money.
Most of our customers don’t like the route that goes through Bulgaria, because the police are very violent there. The situation in Bulgarian refugee camps is awful, and in some cases the authorities try to send the refugees back to their home country.
There are always risks – after all, they’re doing something illegal. For example, a smuggler might put 45 people in the back of a truck and drive for 12 hours – and the passengers can’t open any windows. There have been cases where people in trucks are crushed between the loads inside containers, when the driver suddenly hit the brakes hard. I even heard that some smugglers that take boats to Australia will dump containers into the ocean if they find out they’re being tracked by the police.
That’s an accurate account, writes Sam Sarabi, an Iranian journalist and former Human Rights Watch adviser who works on refugee cases on Turkey. He welcomes attention to the issue and plight of migrants seeking refuge, but says there are unintended consequences as the situation continues to spiral.
Governments are cracking down on human smugglers, and this has a secondary impact – smugglers are now sacrificing human lives to escape arrest. I don’t think that government should close their eyes on human trafficking, but they need to think of ways to avoid such a situation.
More of the transcript is in the post, From Syria to Europe: A human trafficker’s tale, which also includes audio of the entire conversation.