In June the European Union (EU) responded to the colossal toll of people fleeing war and poverty dying on its borders by launching an 11.8 million euro ($12.8m) per year naval mission. EUNAVFOR Med was launched to tackle human trafficking from North Africa, a major contributor to the migration crisis that has claimed 2,000 lives in the Mediterranean in 2015 alone.
But while the EU has declared war on traffickers in Libya and elsewhere, another trade is booming on its doorstep. Land smuggling preys on desperate migrants and refugees hoping to escape the EU's Dublin Regulation — whereby people seeking refuge are required to do so in the first country that they set foot in — and illegally cross European borders.
VICE News travels to Sicily, a main stepping stone into Europe, to follow a police operation to arrest suspected smugglers at a boat landing, and meet a former member of a people trafficking network operating between Libya, Egypt, and Italy. We also find out about the land smuggling business of taking people from Sicily to northern Europe, and meet a small group of activists helping newly-arrived migrants and refugees avoid being exploited.
In this extra scene from 'People Smuggling in Sicily: Europe or Die,' VICE News visits Europe's largest migrant reception center, Cara di Mineo. We try to find out if the prospects for migrants who choose the legal route of entering the Italian system are better than for those who attempt illegal smuggling routes into other European countries. What we discover is a segregated migrant city of more than 3,200 frustrated residents, hidden away in a former US army base in the Sicilian countryside.