refugee trafficking

Refugee Trafficking



port coast flee/fled
local refugee tear/tore/torn
cargo witness navigation
hub pretend potential
rough identify jump ship
aware passage  desperate
attain asylum  smuggler
earn horizon territory
ensure arrest nosing around
anchor to force raise money
pray shore ramshackle
flock huddle





In Mersin, a large port city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Syria is just 200 km to the east.

Some 45,000 Syrians have fled the war-torn country and come here. Many of them dream of one day boarding a ship for Europe.

That’s made Mersin one of the main hubs for trafficking refugees.

Local fisherman say they witness it all the time.

Local fisherman: “They’re taken out to big, cargo ships. We see them leaving at night without any navigation lights. That’s a clear sign that they are carrying refugees.

It’s become more and more frequent recently.

I’ve never seen anything like it.”

We call a Syrian trafficker here in Mersin, pretending to be potential passengers.

He tells us not to worry: we’re going to be safe.

Trafficker: “It’s $4,800 per person. Usually we charge $5,000 to $5,500.

The ship is a 77 meter-long cargo ship; so rough seas won’t be a problem.

There will be a thousand passengers on this one.

And don’t worry about the captain jumping ship — he won’t get paid until everyone’s arrived safely.”

That smugglers can’t be trusted is well-known here in Istanbul’s Aksaray district — home to thousands of Syrian refugees.

Many now own stores and cafes here.

But even they dream of a life in Europe, like this journalist from Damascus, who doesn’t want to be identified.

He doesn’t own a passport. His wife and children are in Lebanon.

Though he’s aware of the risks, he’s trying to raise money for the passage from Mersin.

Journalist: “When you’re fleeing death, you don’t care about the risks. Because there’s no legal way to enter Europe, I’m practically forced into the hands of the smugglers.

I’ll probably travel by myself first, and once I’ve attained asylum in Italy or elsewhere, I’ll send for my family.”

Somewhere out there on Mersin’s horizon, a 77 meter-long cargo ship is waiting to take off with 1,000 refugees, a trip that will earn the traffickers more than $4 million.

They often anchor beyond Turkey’s territorial waters to ensure that the coast guard won’t come nosing around.

But even then, the trafficker ensure us that we won’t have to fear the Turkish police.

Trafficker: “If you were to be arrested, all they would do is take your picture. And then they’d set you free as soon as you hand over your cell phone.

And you won’t need your cell phone anyway.”

Syria’s desperate refugees used to huddle on fishing boats like this one, praying they’d reach Europe’s shores.

Today, they’re loaded onto ramshackle ships.

For them the dangers remain the same.

The only ones who are sure to profit are the traffickers.

And they’re flocking to the new gold coast of the Mediterranean: Mersin.

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1. Mersin is a hub for trafficking migrants. Why is Mersin a trafficking hub?

2. How are refugees trafficked out of Mersin to Europe?

3. More and more refugees are coming and being trafficked. Is this true or false?

4. Is the trafficking fee cheap, medium-priced or expensive? Is this very profitable?

5. Does the trafficker reassure potential passengers? How does he reassure them? What does he tell them?
A. Why are there so many refugees?

B. Are there refugees in your city or country? Who are they? Where do they come from? What do they seek?

C. What is the solution to the plight of refugees?

D. Are refugees in a good or bad thing?

E. Will there be more refugees in the future?

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