Migrant Smuggling Data and Research

A Global Review of the Emerging Evidence Base

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The report shows that important research has been undertaken on the transnational crime aspects of migrant smuggling, including on routes, smuggling organizations (such as criminal networking and facilitation), smuggler profiles and fees/payment. Likewise, there is an emerging academic literature on migrant smuggling, particularly the economic and social processes involved in smuggling, which has largely been based on small-scale qualitative research, mostly undertaken by early career researchers. Contributions from private research companies, as well as investigative journalists, have provided useful insights in some regions, helping to shed light on smuggling practices. There remains, however, sizeable gaps in migration policy research and data, particularly in relation to migration patterns and processes linked to migrant smuggling, including its impact on migrants (particularly vulnerability, abuse and exploitation), as well as its impact on irregular migration flows (such as increasing scale, diversity and changes in geography). Addressing these systemic and regional gaps in data and research would help deepen understanding of the smuggling phenomenon, and provide further insights into how responses can be formulated that better protect migrants while enhancing States’ abilities to manage orderly migration.



North-East Asia

This chapter examines existing data and research on migrant smuggling in North-East Asia, namely China, Japan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (hereafter referred to as North Korea), the Republic of Korea (hereafter referred to as South Korea), Mongolia, and the eastern part of the Russian Federation. The biggest source countries are China and North Korea, followed by a smaller source from Mongolia and the Russian Federation. The destination countries are South Korea and Japan. Data is severely limited not only because of the clandestine nature of migrant smuggling but also because of the two source countries’ undemocratic and developing status. The destination countries have limited priorities to share information with researchers on monitoring and updating illegal entries of migrants, prosecution of smugglers and referral of smuggled migrants.


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