by Maria Maria Katsounaki
People trafficker. A profitable “profession.” A high-risk profession, of course, because the business may sink. In this case, literally. Then 18, 50, 100 lives could be lost, including small children. But what can you do? These things happen in this line of work. And despite the fact that Greek prisons have been filled with people traffickers (2,223 out of a total of 10,678 prisoners) – Greeks and foreigners – the reservoir of terror and impoverishment is constantly being replenished.
As despair, debilitating poverty, wars, climate change and environmental disasters become more frequent, more and more people will feel they have no other choice but to resort to the traffickers – and a percentage of them will be lost along the way. But aside from horror and anathema, the “increased or decreased flow” that depends on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political whims, do we have anything else to contribute to this discussion?
In two consecutive reports in Kathimerini (by Yiannis Souliotis), we see the extent of the problem. Human traffickers could soon outnumber drug traffickers in the country’s prisons. The latter maintains the lead (2,508) but the former is not far behind. Traffickers are also working “overtime” to close that gap. In the past, when the weather conditions were bad, traffickers did not allow the migrant boats to sail. Now, this has also changed. “In order to collect money sooner rather than later, they send them to their deaths,” coast guard officials said.
Can Europe worry about the rise of far-right coalitions, the strength, dangers and quality of democracy, and exclude from the discussion what is happening in the Mediterranean with traffickers, refugees and migrants? Is arresting people traffickers the only solution? When we do, others automatically take their place, or other times strings are being pulled by those who are already behind bars. And then what?
We will slowly get used to their existence, like that of drug traffickers and dealers. They will be listed as the most populous category of prisoners, sentences will be made more severe while, at the same time, the prices for the risky voyage will increase to somewhat mitigate the risk. Then – who knows? – it might become a successful series like “Narcos.” Maybe the traffickers’ equivalent of Pablo Escobar could build schools, hospitals and homes for migrants – those who have survived, of course.