Counting the Cost

The billion-dollar business of refugee smuggling

We explore the economic cost of refugee trafficking and how to protect aid money from being abused by corrupt regimes.

Refugees from Syria’s civil war are spending thousands of dollars and risking everything to reach Europe and escape their decimated country.

The conflict, which is in its fifth year, has killed around 250,000 people, forced 3.98 million to flee the country, and internally displaced around 7.6 million people.

The prospect of a better life in Europe has driven many to make the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean. Thousands have died enroute, and as we saw with the photos of three-year-old boy Alan Kurdi, with every boat the situation gets worse.

Their misery, which makes them easy prey for people smugglers, is part of a global phenomenon that produces almost $26bn a year.

Charging an average of around $3,000 a person to reach Europe, the criminal gangs and the industry as a whole are flourishing.

Wal Van Gemert, the deputy director of Europol, joins Counting the Cost to discuss the business of refugee smuggling.

South Sudan: Preventing aid from fuelling corruption

The dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has prompted donor countries to pump billions of dollars in aid to help with the overwhelming crisis.

Since the violence began in September 2013, more than 1.7 million people have fled their homes and thousands have been killed.

Amy Dodd, the director of UKAN, a coalition of UK-based development NGO’s, joins the programme to dicsuss what can be done to protect aid money from corrupt regimes.