How do smuggling and trafficking operate via irregular border crossings in the Middle East? Evidence from fieldwork in Turkey Comments s'y prennent les passeurs et les trafiquants pour faire franchir clandestinement les frontieres du moyen-orient par les migrants? Les resultats d'un travail de terrain en turquie

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Içduygu A., Toktaş Ş.

International Migration, vol.40, pp.25-54, 2002 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 40
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1468-2435.00222
  • Journal Name: International Migration
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.25-54
  • Police Academy Affiliated: No


This article summarizes main trends, issues, actors, and activities regarding the operation and extension of human trafficking and smuggling via irregular border crossings in the Middle East. Its premise is that rather than the obvious involvement of hierarchical mafia-type organized crime groups, globally articulated networks of locally operating independent, individual groups comprise the essential foundation for human trafficking and smuggling in the region. The available empirical evidence first suggests that elaborating on various aspects of human trafficking and smuggling is a delicate task and any consideration of priorities for data collection and analysis on these activities must start with a clear idea of the information needed and how to obtain that information. Given the highly sensitive nature of trafficking and smuggling issues, there is no simple research practice that can satisfy all these concerns. It is within this context that our analysis here only offers some partial explanation of the complex nature of human trafficking and smuggling in the Middle East. The data used here provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first primary, reliable, and representative information on traffickers and smugglers as they come directly from the narratives of the traffickers and smugglers interviewed. Evidence from our fieldwork in Turkey during the last five years indicates that the ongoing pattern of human trafficking and smuggling in the region is the outcome of quite complex interactions among locally operating individuals and groups, with the simultaneous and sequential operation of a variety of interacting factors, including the presence of interpersonal trust relations between human traffickers and smugglers and the migrants, and the existence of national-, ethnic-, kinship-, friendship-based networks spanning countries of origin, of transit, and of destination worldwide. The study has confirmed that the nature of trafficking and smuggling in the Middle East is quite different from similar activities found elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, the study concludes that we should not disregard these issues from the perspective of criminal justice and human rights.