Published by: MMC

Region: North Africa

Mixed migration and migrant smuggling in Libya

The role of non-Libyan smuggler intermediaries

Libya is a major point of departure for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Given the difficulties of this journey, and of moving into and through Libya, such movements are almost entirely facilitated by a smuggler(s). The majority of existing scholarship and research on Libya’s smuggling sector focuses on Libyan actors to understand the linkages among smuggling operations, the conflict economy and local governance. In so doing, limited attention has been given to the role of non-Libyan actors – i.e., refugees and migrants – working within smuggling networks throughout the country.

To better understand the roles of non-Libyans working within these operations, and to provide a more nuanced understanding of the sector, this briefing paper provides a preliminary analysis of the sector through the eyes of a cross-section of non-Libyan smugglers. The paper takes a routes-based approach to analyse the changing dynamics between non-Libyan smugglers and others working within smuggling operations to understand the ways in which power shifts along the route impact the intra-network smuggling interactions.


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