Here’s how the deal works: You’re a poor, illiterate peasant from Bamako or Ouagadougou. Your country is in severe drought and your family is near starvation. So you sell your surviving cattle and pay €1,200 ($1,500) per family member to an Egyptian trafficker who says he can get you across the Mediterranean to Italy.
You set out across the desert with your family. You have to stay awake all night holding a big knife to keep the traffickers and your fellow asylum-seekers from raping your wife and daughters (and maybe even your younger sons) at the roadside camps. Then, when you get to Cyrenaica, you’re locked in a warehouse near the coast and beaten up by the guards, going without food for three days until the overloaded boat is ready to set sail.
By the time you’re picked up by a passing ship and put ashore on Sicily, you’re bruised, emaciated, sick, exhausted, and penniless. But none of that matters now — you’re in Italy, where the living is easy! Where the government feeds you and houses you and even gives you spending money! And, with a little luck, you may make it to Germany, or Britain, or Sweden, where the benefits are even greater…
The above account is my imaginative reconstruction of the background details for a recent news story. The traffickers in question have been caught, but their asylum-seeking charges will presumably remain in the Schengen Area indefinitely.
Two Egyptian ‘Migrant Traffickers’ Arrested
Men allegedly responsible for trafficking 58 immigrants
(ANSA) — Pozzallo, November 3 — Police stopped two men on Monday believed to be the speedboat pilots responsible for trafficking 58 immigrants who landed near the Sicilian coastal city of Ragusa on October 31.
The men, 32-year-old Mouhamed Mouhamed and 59-year-old Adel Ale Mouhamed Ale, both Egyptian, are under investigation by the Ragusa prosecutor’s office for conspiracy to aid illegal immigration.
The immigrants, rescued by the British merchant ship Normand Cutter, told investigators they were kept locked in a warehouse and beaten repeatedly until the day of the speedboat’s departure, and that they paid an average of 1,200 euros each for the trip.
Immigrants who landed at Pozzallo near Ragusa are currently being transferred to other centers because the Italian Coast Guard is bringing 350 more immigrants to that city’s port on Monday.
Hat tip: Insubria.