People Smuggling in Sicily: Europe or Die
In June the European Union (EU) responded to the huge numbers of migrants and refugees dying on its borders by launching an 11.8 million euro ($12.8m) a year naval mission. EUNAVFOR Med was launched to tackle human trafficking from North Africa, a major contributor to the migration crisis that has claimed 2,000 lives in the Mediterranean in 2015 alone.
But while the EU has declared war on traffickers in Libya and elsewhere, another trade is booming on its doorstep. Land smuggling preys on desperate people hoping to escape the EU's Dublin Regulation — whereby migrants seeking refuge are required to do so in the first country that they set foot in — and illegally cross European borders.
VICE News travels to Sicily, a main stepping stone into Europe, to follow a police operation to arrest suspected smugglers at a boat landing, and meets a former member of a people trafficking network operating between Libya, Egypt, and Italy. We also find out about the land smuggling business of taking people from Sicily to northern Europe, and meet a small group of activists helping newly-arrived migrants and refugees avoid being exploited.