Related Publications on Migrant Smuggling

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Research and Trend Analysis Branch

UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch (UNODC Research) is responsible for the collection, analysis and dissemination of drugs and crime research on a wide range of topics, including smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons, drug demand and supply, homicide, prisons, the criminal justice system, firearms, financial crime and violent crime.

UNODC Research also supports countries to improve evidence-based policy making for crime prevention through capacity building, briefings and trainings.

UNODC Research, through the UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants, engages in data collection, research and information sharing to improve Member States’ capacities to combat migrant smuggling, as per the mandate given to UNODC by UN General Assembly Resolution A/73/186 (29.01.2019) to: “systematically collect data and information from Member States on migrant smuggling routes, the modus operandi of migrant smugglers and the role of transnational organized crime.”

Find more information about UNODC Research here, and access the UNODC Data Portal here.

UNODC Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants (2018)

The first UNODC Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants shows that migrant smuggling routes affect every part of the world. The study is based on an extensive review of existing data and literature. It presents detailed information about key smuggling routes, the profiles of smugglers and smuggled migrants, the modus operandi of smugglers and the risks that smuggled migrants face. It shows that smuggling is a business largely based on supply, such as smuggling services, and the demand for facilitated irregular migration. Smugglers and the experience of being smuggled also expose migrants to a range of risks: violence; robbery; exploitation; sexual violence; kidnapping and even death.

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Mixed Migration Centre

The Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) is a leading source for independent and high-quality data, research, analysis and expertise on mixed migration. MMC works in partnership with the UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants to conduct field research across North and West Africa. MMC has access to a wide range of respondents and conducts quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with people on the move, smugglers, and key informants, such as NGO workers, journalists, researchers, and other interlocutors identified as having relevant information.

Find more information about the Mixed Migration Centre here, and its data collection initiative, the 4MI here

MMC has produced two snapshots so far, to highlight the key findings from this data collection and research.

4Mi snapshot: Nigerian Refugees’ and Migrants’ Use of Smugglers (August 2021)

This snapshot deals with the experiences of Nigerians on the move in West and North Africa and along the Central Mediterranean route, using data from 644 interviews conducted in Niger, Libya and Italy between the end of 2019 and June 2021. The snapshot provides an overview of the use of smugglers by Nigerians and indicates that Nigerian women have distinct experiences of smuggling and are particularly vulnerable to trafficking in persons.

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4Mi snapshot: The Many Roles of Migrant Smugglers and Movement Facilitators in West and North Africa (July 2021)

This snapshot focuses on the multiple and varying roles of migrant smugglers and movement facilitators in North and West Africa, providing crucial empirical evidence on a little-understood topic, the complexity of which is difficult to capture. Drawing on 516 surveys conducted in Libya, Mali and Niger, the snapshot presents key findings that smugglers play a limited role in the decision to migrate but act as a vital information source for people on the move before and throughout the journey.

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United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section

The UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants works closely with the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS), which provides normative, policy and technical support and programme management. In particular, the HTMSS section supports national capacity building, knowledge development and sharing, as well as international cooperation and coordination. The UNODC Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants contributes to relevant HTMSS publications.

Abused and Neglected: A Gender Perspective on Aggravated Migrant Smuggling Offences and Response (June 2021)

This publication elaborates on the specific gender-based risk factors that can lead to violence during smuggling operations, analysing the impact of gender on the forms of violence inflicted upon smuggled migrants and refugees before, during and after travelling. In addition, it sets out the State responses to aggravated smuggling offences and provides recommendations to combat the impunity of those implicated in these crimes. Applying a gender perspective, the study reviews two major transit zones in Western/Northern Africa and Central America.

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© UNODC / Yasser Rezahi