Iraqi people smuggler makes $100,000 a year

He says business is 'not stopping' on trafficking routes from Turkey and Iraq heading to Europe

People smugglers are profiting from migrants desperate to reach Europe while also showing little regard for their lives.

British broadcaster Sky spoke to a smuggler in the northern Iraqi province of Erbil who claimed to be making $100,000 a year acting as part of an illegal network.

The man said business was “not stopping”, with trafficking routes starting from Turkey and Iraq either heading north to Belarus, or west across the sea to Greece and Italy.

“More and more people want to go but due to the Belarus visa not being available currently, they can't.”

Twenty-seven migrants bound for Britain died on Wednesday after their boat sank crossing the English Channel.

Four suspected traffickers were arrested on suspicion of being linked to the sunken boat, France's interior minister said.

Speaking to Sky, the smuggler said small boats used to reach the UK would be modified in an attempt to fit in far more people.

“We collect and transfer people to the UK via Dunkirk, where we put them on boats. Normally these boats hold five people, but we strengthen them with metal rods and a motor so we can send more than 15 to 20 people on them.”

Thousands of migrants have become embroiled in a political dispute at the border between Belarus and Poland in recent weeks.

The Mahmoud family described their experience as being treated “like animals” after paying smugglers $30,000 to enable their journey to Europe.

Mother Yagdar Mahmoud said they were at times left without money to buy food and told they could not turn back.

“When we went to Belarus, we didn't even know how to get enough money to eat. He [the smuggler] said 'I don't have money for you'. I told him we wanted to go home but he said 'You can't go back, I spent money on you, you have to deal with it'."

The family were eventually sent home to Iraq after crossing into Poland from Belarus, which they said was aided by Belarusian border forces.

Daughter Bria Mahmoud said their ordeal had left them without a future, and they would be willing to risk the journey again.

“If we have money we buy again, because we don't have life here and we don't have a future and we don't have money … we lost everything.”

Updated: November 25th 2021, 12:20 PM
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