Sakset/Fra hofta

Sivilingeniør Abu Hamada fra Syria har ikke bygget noe på en stund. Han er altfor travelt opptatt om dagen. Milioner av mennesker vil til Europa og Hamada hjelper til så godt han kan. Også er det pengene da. Milionene strømmer inn på bok for en dreven menneskesmugler.

En helt ny karriere med langt bedre vekst- og inntjeningmuligheter enn ingeniørarbeid. Bare ett år etter at Hamada flyttet fra Syria til Egypt, har han etablert seg som en av toppene i smuglerhierakiet.

Slik går smuglerturen fra Gaza til Italia:

This trip costs between $3500 to $4000 dollars a person. People who want to go make arrangements ahead of time to come to the entrance to a tunnel in Palestinian Rafah. It’s a relatively small tunnel; most of the big ones have been blocked by the Egyptians. People crawl dozens of meters and at the end of the tunnel on the Egyptian side of Rafah a minibus or other vehicle waits for them and takes them to Port Said.

The man said that once they get to Port Said or other locales, they wait in an apartment or other building that has been prepared for them ahead of time. He added that Egyptian security officials are bribed to look the other way and stamp passports with forged stamps. …

The refugees wait until they get word from the smugglers to proceed to Alexandria, where they board small boats, sometimes dozens per boat. Once they leave Egyptian territorial waters they switch to another boat that in most cases sails to Italy. The trip usually takes about a week.

One refugee who managed to get to the Italian coast [said] that when the boat approaches the shore it issues a distress call and Italian navy and Red Cross ships pick them up. In other cases, the boat approaches the shore and people jump into the water with life jackets, and are rescued by the Coast Guard or the Red Cross.

Men dette var før EU stanset operasjon Mare Nostrum som plukket opp små flykningebåter langt ute i Middelhavet og gikk over til operasjon Triton, med begrenset rekkevidde. Denne omleggingen har ført til nye innovative tiltak som førerløse store spøkelsesskip fulle av flyktninger på vei mot Italia.

Abu Hamada og hans like er mest aktive i sommersesongen når vær- og vindforhold er bedre egnet for mindre båter.

The majority of Syrians attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Egypt to Italy are likely to sign up with one of his web of brokers. From May until October, the period when the weather allowed for smuggling missions, Abu Hamada’s men organised on average two trips a week, each earning him a profit of at least £30,000.

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Don’t pay the ferryman until he gets you to…

Det er ingen konkurranse mellom denne gruppen og de som opererer med store skip fra den tyrkiske kysten. Det er mer enn nok av mennesker som vil til Europa og det ser ut til at de har nok av penger å betale til menneskesmuglerne. Markedet er stort nok for alle.

No single person controls every aspect of every trip. Foreign brokers such as Abu Hamada and his deputy and nephew Abu Uday (both are known by their nicknames) need Egyptian colleagues to carry out certain aspects of the operation, particularly at sea. But Abu Hamada is the central player in his network, the man through whom all money passes. Without him, his trips would not happen.

The process starts far from the sea itself. Individual migrants approach one of Abu Hamada’s Syrian brokers in their neighbourhood and fix a price. “It’s very easy to find someone – everyone knows a smuggler or two,” says Mehyar, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee who successfully made the trip last year. “In fact, you don’t need to find them. They find you.”

Each boat of 200 passengers gives him a turnover of about $380,000. Of this, he spends half on the boat and about $70,000 on the various costs related to bussing migrants to the sea. A further $30,000 goes on housing the migrants in the days before their departure. The boat crew get $15,000, as do the brokers that find the migrants. After a few extra costs, Abu Hamada is usually left at the end of every trip with a profit of about $45,000-$50,000.

Despite the risks and despite the callousness of their traffickers, Syrian refugees say they would try again and again to cross the Mediterranean with the help of people like Abu Hamada.

The horrors of Syria, and the subsequent prejudice and poverty they face in countries such as Egypt, give them no other choice.

Men til Jämtland vil de ikke.

Les mer i The Guardian