Migrant smuggling set to surge as coronavirus lockdown eases – Europol
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The European Union's (EU) policing agency warned Friday, May 15, that the easing of coronavirus measures may trigger a surge in illegal migration towards Europe's borders.
Europol said in its latest report that illegal migration slowed down during the COVID-19 lockdown, but was bound to shoot up once restrictions are lifted.
"A loosening of travel and movement restrictions is likely to result in an increasing movement of irregular migrants... as they have been largely unable to make movements during the lockdown," Europol said.
"Prolonged economic instability and the sustained lack of opportunities in some African economies may trigger another wave of irregular migration towards the EU in the mid-term," the Hague-based agency warned.
Because air travel has virtually stopped over the past two months and border controls were tightened, people smugglers also shifted their ways to get illegal migrants into the continent.
"Small boats are increasingly being used to cross river borders" as well as the English Channel, Europol said, while they are also being hidden in cross-border freight vehicles and cargo trains.
Organized criminals would also seek to exploit coronavirus-related restrictions on sex work, further putting vulnerable migrants at risk, Europol said.
Europol also accused Turkey of helping "large groups of migrants" to cross the Greek border earlier this year.
Turkey decided in February to re-open its border for refugees seeking to reach Europe, sparking a huge row with the European Union. – Rappler.com