The Niger-Libya Corridor Smugglers’ Perspectives

The particular focus of this study is on the smugglers facilitating the unprecedented flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya. There is a specific focus on the smuggling corridor that links northern Niger to southern Libya. This smuggling route, through which hundreds of thousands have passed since the onset of what has come to be called the “migrant crisis” in Europe, is one of the key pathways linking migrants from West and Central Africa, and to a lesser extent, the Middle East, to North African shores for an onward passage to Europe. In 2013, various estimates suggested that as many as 3 000 people per week were passing through Agadez and using smugglers to move toward Libya – a figure that has remained consistent and even increased in the years after, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimating that as many as 170 000 migrants, mostly from West Africa, passed through Agadez on their way north as of October in 2016. Long, semi-structured interviews with eight individual smugglers operating along this corridor, combined with extensive and ongoing research on the topic of migrant smuggling networks, forms the basis of this analysis. These interviews focus on the transporters who move people from Agadez into southern Libya, who form only one part of the broader migrant smuggling industry.