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Advocacy journalism in the service of the refugees, most from Africa and the Middle East, who are now flooding Europe.

“At no time in history have so many people attempted to cross international borders without authorization,” write Tinti, a research fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, and Reitano, the founder of that organization, “and at no time has a collection of democratic governments purportedly committed to human rights and international law gone to such inhumane lengths to stop them.” Although some of the efforts to stop this traffic have legal and historical precedent, whether simply turning refugees back at the border or hounding them from places of refuge, the business surrounding the refugee crisis is without parallel. This economy of exile, so to speak, is a huge business, with numerous centers. One is Belgrade, the launching point for great columns of refugees seeking to make their way to Western Europe or Scandinavia; the Serbian capital is now the host of a sophisticated smuggling economy that, by the authors’ account, is not quite as thuggish as “the criminal entrepreneurs operating in small border towns.” The authors traverse the trans-Mediterranean smuggling routes, describing the Libyan gangs and their fleets of utterly unseaworthy craft and the highly developing forgery industry of Lebanon, which manufactures fake passports and visas far faster than the understaffed U.N. can sort out. As they write, “identifying a fake that has been printed on real Syrian passport books with real equipment is very difficult.” While a few humanitarians figure in these pages, most of the actors are predators preying on some of the most vulnerable people on Earth—and most of the illegal migration economy is fueled by those who are unwanted, without skills or the ability to fill anything other than the lowest service jobs.

Sobering reading but of great interest to those seeking context for so many recent headlines.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-19-066859-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2017


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