About the project
The UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants is a pilot project to assess the characteristics, drivers and impacts of migrant smuggling in rapidly changing contexts. The Observatory collects and disseminates data, information and analysis on smuggling of migrants. The information is gathered through regular field research in origin, transit and destination countries, with people on the move, law enforcement, civil society, and other key actors. This is complemented with targeted surveys with people on the move and migrant smugglers in origin and transit countries.
The Observatory provides up-to-date evidence on the modus operandi of migrant smugglers, smuggling routes, financial aspects and abuses suffered in the context of migrant smuggling. The information and analysis provided is essential to better understand the phenomenon of smuggling of migrants, in order to better prevent and combat smuggling and related crimes, and to protect the human rights of people who are smuggled. The information will be updated on a regular basis to provide real-time information, and to allow for a longitudinal assessment of the data and information.
Key research areas
- Smuggling demand: Prospective migrants’ motivations, intentions and preparations for the journey; financial planning; possibilities for regular and irregular travel; awareness of and interaction with migrant smugglers and other facilitators of mobility;
- Key routes and hubs: Itineraries and duration of travel; experiences of the journey;
- Smugglers’ Profiles: How migrant smugglers organise their business; strategies for identification of service-users (migrants and refugees); connections to forms of organised crime; adaptation to changes in policies and law enforcement practices;
- Smuggling fees: Prices paid for migrant smuggling services; methods of payment;
- Abuses suffered in the context of smuggling: Physical and sexual violence; child abuse; exploitation and human trafficking; deprivation of liberty; extortion; robbery; food and water deprivation; lack of access to healthcare; loss of life.
The UNODC Observatory research methodology is inductive and flexible, guided by the context of the research field, rather than following a rigid formula or theoretical framework. Inductive research draws as much as possible from the observation of the realities of the research field, which is then analysed in order to identify trends and form theoretical frameworks, as opposed to deductive research, which starts with theories and then tests them according to observation of the research field. The SOM Observatory methodology is also interdisciplinary, combining primary research and surveys in the field with desk-based research, as well as analysing qualitative and quantitative sources.
Click here to download the full Observatory Methodology!
The Observatory website is regularly updated to cover more smuggling routes and include the latest research findings. The first phase of research focuses on the characteristics of migrant smuggling in West Africa, North Africa and the Central Mediterranean. Below is an overview of sea smuggling routes to Europe.
Sea routes to Europe
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
For more information on the UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants please contact us at: UNODCemail@example.com
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