The Smuggling Game

LIN TAYLOR AND VALERIA CARDI

published by THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

La Thomson Reuters Foundation è una piattaforma indipendente con uffici in 14 paesi e articoli in 35 lingue diverse. La collaborazione con ONG, giornalisti, imprese internazionali e governi, ne fa un punto di riferimento per l’informazione mondiale e il giornalismo investigativo, con reportage di qualità, da ogni continente, sui diritti umani, il cambiamento climatico, la giustizia sociale, la lotta al traffico di vite umane. 

Un curato long-form racconta la lunga strada attraverso i Balcani dei rifugiati che arrivano in Serbia e la mafia dei trafficanti di vite umane, che sbarcano il lunario con uno squallido guardie e ladri sulla frontiera. 

In the dead of night, as wild animals howled nearby, Syrian migrant Aras Mahmoud clung to his children as they slept on damp grass in the Bulgarian mountains en route to Serbia, praying that his family would live another day.

“In those mountains, you are not sure if something will eat you or attack you,” said Mahmoud, 38, in Arabic through an interpreter at a migrant centre in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

“My two children got very scared. They used to tell me, ‘No father, we don’t want to go with smugglers, we don’t want to go to the forest.’ We suffered in the mountains.”

Scared and helpless, in those dark moments Mahmoud said he wrestled with his decision four years ago to gamble everything – his money and the lives of his wife and children – to pay nameless strangers to smuggle them to safety, becoming another pawn in the global people trade widely known as “The Game”.

“If you go, you succeed. If you don’t go, you lose. That’s why they call it a game,” said 20-year-old Afghan migrant Ahmad Shakib who made it to Serbia from Bulgaria after three ‘games’.

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