People smugglers benefit most from the desperate efforts of migrants to get to Europe. A video made by Sky News TV and published by the Associated Press shows how big the business is, with one smuggler telling reporters he earns about $100,000 (€89,000) a year.
The people of Iraq, specifically Iraqi Kurds, are the most commonly found among the migrants currently trying to get across the Belarusian-Polish border to the European Union.
The smuggling business continues despite complications such as European Union sanctions against Belavia, an airline that transported migrants from the Middle East.
“More and more people want to get out of Iraq, but now they can’t because it is impossible to get visas for Belarus at the moment,” one of the smugglers in Iraq told Sky News.
However, the smuggler’s “territory” is not limited to Belarus. He also transports people across the sea to Italy or even the United Kingdom. It was while trying to cross the English Channel that 31 migrants died on Thursday. In France, four smugglers have already been detained in connection with these deaths.
“We are transporting these people to Britain from Dunkirk. Those boats are usually intended for five people, but we bolster them with steel ropes and equip them with a motor so that we can carry 15 to 20 people,” the smuggler from Iraq continued.
The Mahmoud family also wanted to use the services of smugglers and paid $30,000 (€26,600) to do so.
“When we got to Belarus, we didn’t have any money for food. When they told us they wouldn’t give us any money, we wanted to go home. They told us that we could not return because we had already cost them money, and we had to deal with it. They treated us like animals,” Jadgar Mahmoud told Sky News.
Her family did eventually return to Iraq — they were detained trying to cross the Polish border and, subsequently, deported back to Iraq.
When asked by a reporter if she would take the trip again, Mahmoud answered without thinking: “If we had the money, yes. We have no life or future here. We lack money. We have lost everything and have nothing.”