Offisielt jamrer Nord-Europa over alle flyktningene som drukner i Middelhavet og beklager at Italia har innstilt patruljeringen langt til havs, kalt Mare Nostrum. Men uoffisielt klager de samme landene på at Italia sender de illegale nordover til dem.

Det fremgår av dokumenter der Spiegel har fått fatt i.

Nord-Europa og Italia hadde en stilltiende overenskomst. Italia reddet flyktninger fra å drukne, men unnlot å registrere dem slik at de kunne legges inn i EUs database, EURODOC. Hvis de ligger der kan Dublin-konvensjonen anvendes: Da kan ikke de illegale shoppe asyl. Et lands myndigheter kan sjekke om vedkommende allerede har søkt asyl i et annet land.

Italia unnlot å registrere og sendte dem bare videre. De andre landene sa ikke noe. Men nå har antallet flyktninger nådd et nivå som får nordeuropeerne til å protestere. Det er de samme landene som offisielt synes det var forferdelig at Italia 1. november innstilte operasjon Mare Nostrum.

There was an unwritten rule after the tragic shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3, 2013, in which 366 people drowned: Rome sends naval ships and coast guard vessels into the Mediterranean as part of the «Mare Nostrum» rescue operation, but it lets most of the migrants continue northward without further ado, so that they will not apply for political asylum in Italy as the country of their arrival, as required under the Dublin II agreement.

But in late September, Italy changed course. In a confidential communiqué, which SPIEGEL has seen, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano ordered that henceforth migrants «always» be identified and fingerprinted. Alfano noted that various EU countries have, «with increasing insistence,» complained that the immigrants are left to continue their «journey to northern European countries» without being challenged by Italian authorities.

Grunnen er enkel: Kapasitetsproblemer og velferd. De som tar seg til Sveits, Tyskland, Danmark, Norge eller Sverige har rett på velferdsgoder. Men skoler, helse, boliger kan ikke ta unna alle, og trygdebudsjettene svulmer. Politikerne har forstått at dagens system ikke kan fortsette. Noen tar flere enn andre. Sverige står i en særklasse. EU har ikke funnet noe system for felles flyktningpolitikk. Imens øker tilstrømmingen. Hittil i år har det kommet 150.000 bare til Italia. Av dem er 60.000 bare sendt videre og finnes ikke registrert noe sted.

Strømmen vil fortsette. Av den enkle grunn at smuglerne tjener hundrevis av millioner på trafikken.

Amnesty International hudfletter EU og sier unionen har sviktet. Men NGO’er som Amnesty har ikke samme gjennomslagskraft som før. Problemene er for store. Så lenge Amnesty ikke tar høyde for det, vil de snakke for døve ører. Amnesty tar ikke menneskesmuglingen med i beregningen: at kriminelle gjør store penger på trafikken.

Meanwhile, the dream of a better life in the EU is a source of income for an entire industry of criminals: human traffickers. Very few Syrians, Eritreans or sub-Saharan Africans hazard the journey to Europe on their own, most opting to pay others for help. Extrapolations from current market prices indicate that traffickers have likely earned several hundred million euros in 2014 just from migrants who landed on the coasts of Italy. The higher the hurdles along the path northward, the bigger the traffickers’ profits.

I tillegg kommer et nettverk av aktivister som hjelper mennesker til Europa av altruistiske grunner.

But there is also a second group that has become active in response to the stream of immigrants. Called «la rete» — the network — it is an informal collection of bloggers and human rights activists. They too accompany migrants on their perilous journey from the coasts of the Middle East or Anatolia, across the Mediterranean to Europe. But they do so using the tools of the 21st century.

The Network operates a tightly organized early warning and monitoring system via Facebook, email, satellite phone and Skype. Its aim is to ensure that no migrant can quietly disappear from the radar and that no fishing cutter laden with hundreds of migrants can go unnoticed off the Libyan coast. The digital activists operate 24 hours a day and, unlike the criminal traffickers, they work without pay.

Tragiske historier

Der Spiegel har møtt en softwareutvikler fra Damaskus, Ahmad, som sitter strandet på den italiensk-franske grensen. Det er snakk om mennesker som har forlatt alt og betaler hva det skal være. En formue. To årslønner for å komme seg til Europa. En reise hvor man legger sitt liv i andres hender. Mange ganger.

«My first contact,» says the Syrian, «was through a middleman in Damascus named Abu Jafir.» Jafir had insisted that the total fee for the trip to Italy — €7,000 ($8,735) per person — be paid in advance.

Ahmad doesn’t comment on the amount, which corresponds to at least two average annual salaries in prewar Syria. He describes his odyssey matter-of-factly, as if he were showing a long film backwards, frame by frame.

«We took a bus from my neighborhood, which is controlled by pro-regime troops, to an area near the airport. From there, we continued toward Aleppo, where we boarded minivans that took us to the Turkish border. There were constantly new traffickers,» says Ahmad. He likens the human trafficking business to «an endless chain that no one can figure out.»

The refugees crawled through underground tunnels into Turkey. Judging by the license plates they saw, they were now in Kilis Province in southern Anatolia. A bus took them to Istanbul, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away.

«We stayed there for two weeks, half of that time in hotels,» says Ahmad. «The $500 I had brought along with me was already gone by the time we left for a place near Izmir. First we had to walk for eight hours. We arrived at a concealed harbor at about 9 p.m. Our boat was more than 20 meters (66 feet) long, and it was flying the American flag.»

Enorm fortjeneste

Traffickerne tjener enorme summer. En kaptein får 10.000 dollar for en overfart fra Tyrkia til Italia. En kaptein som har stått frem i en bok forteller at han mistet eller ofret 77 båter han alene bare i 2010.

It didn’t escape the notice of Ahmad and the others that, after landing in Capo Cimiti on the Calabrian coast, their skipper — a 28-year-old Turk named Koç Can — tried to masquerade as a deaf-mute refugee. But they didn’t know who the masterminds behind their journey were. They didn’t know who collected the proceeds of at least €800,000.

Istanbul has long been notorious in the law enforcement community as a hub of international human trafficking. In 2011 alone, more than 9,000 traffickers in Turkey accumulated $303 million in profits, according to a report by the International Terrorism Center of the Turkish Police Academy. A guard assigned to protect the refugees in Istanbul, for example, charges $30. Boat renters demand at least $3,000 a week. And the captain of an expedition to the Italian coast collects up to $10,000 per trip.

Muammer Küçük, currently in hiding, has made a fortune in the human trafficking business — at least according to the book «Confessions of a Human Trafficker,» by northern Italian criminologist Andrea De Nicola and his co-author, Giampaolo Musumeci. Küçük, who has a long criminal record, lost 77 ships off the Italian coast in 2010 alone — a number that offers insight into the enormous scale of the overall operation.


Trafikken reiser enorme sikkerhetsprobelemer for myndighetene: Hvem kommer inn? Hvem er det som tjener de enorme formuene? Man må anta at det er kriminelle nettverk. Hvilke andre geskjefter operer de med? Narko, prostitusjon, våpen?

Kriminelle har en tendens til å samarbeide og veien til terror-relatert virksomhet er ikke lang.

De mest profesjonelle nettverkene står det organisert kriminelle bak.

«The world’s largest and most brutal travel agency,» as the authors call it, offers custom-made solutions for every budget: from rusty fishing cutters to high-speed inflatable boats to luxury yachts flying the US flag. Traffickers, the book says, also offer the option of flying directly to Milan’s Malpensa Airport complete with advance delivery of fake passports — for those wishing to avoid a nighttime boat landing along a remote stretch of the southern Italian coast.

Når politiet setter trykk på ett sted, finner smuglerne en annen rute. Akkurat nå er det fra Tyrkia over Svartehavet til Romania.

In September, a boat carrying 82 Syrians and Afghans was stranded north of Istanbul along that route. In early November, 25 refugees died in the Bosporus on the way to Romania.

Italiensk politi har rullet opp en liga: Den benyttet småkriminelle italienere som visegutter og viste seg å være styrt av en syrer. Der Spiegel har sett arrestordren.

It is based on the results of last November’s «Operation Jackal,» when special police units smashed a ring of traffickers. The leader of the ring was a Syrian.

The telephone surveillance logs illuminate the inner workings of a scene in which petty Italian criminals provide services for their Egyptian, Syrian and North African employers. Their preferred rendezvous points in Milan are the McDonald’s restaurant in front of the main train station, the Burger King on Piazza Lima and the Molino Dorino subway station. Potential customers are recruited directly at the train station or by agents smuggled into reception centers. A minibus-driver who takes eight people from Milan to Munich charges a fee of €4,000, half of it payable upfront and the other half upon arrival. The bus usually leaves around 6 p.m., driven by «Italians born and bred,» as the Arabs say derisively — that is, people with proper EU passports. The vehicles return early the next morning.

De kriminelle nettverkene praktiserer en hard form for kapitalisme som stratifiserer flyktningene. Det er ingen nåde. Barn er kastet på sjøen, en gutt med blodkreft ble hivd ut av en bil bare timer før han skulle bli operert. Han døde. Noen ganger blir de lurt. Hvis flyktningene ikke kan lese latinske bokstaver, hender det sjåførene slipper de av etter en time, på italiensk side.

Aktivister driver et nettverk som sørger for at flyktninger til sjøs blir reddet. Men også de blir en del av trafikken som genererer milliarder.

Konfliktene i Midtøsten produserer strømmen av mennesker til Europa. Europa har ingen svar annet enn nødløsninger.

Problemene har allerede et omfang som gjør at det ikke holder bare å være humanitær.