Report: Human traffickers in Africa shifting business models

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A new report has indicated human traffickers in East and North Africa are shifting their business models in response to efforts to contain migration.

The report by the Research and Evidence Facility, a European Union Trust Fund for Africa, stated the routes previously used for migration out of Africa have shifted and new ones through Niger, Algeria and Turkey have emerged.

"Not only have (the smugglers and traffickers) broadened their reach, they have also decriminalized many aspects of their smuggling business model, employing increasingly legal mechanisms to work from West Africa, Turkey and Europe," the authors stated, adding that efforts to combat illicit financial transactions linked to trafficking from Africa are still at an early stage. "Today, the smuggling of humans relies less on clandestine movement, and more on commercial travel."

During the report launch in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday, Paul Stanfield, Interpol's director of organized and emerging crime, said organized criminal groups target the most vulnerable, including those fleeing conflict.

"Understanding the multifaceted nature of the crime, Interpol recognizes the importance of adopting a multifaceted approach to combat it," Stanfield said, adding that many unsuspecting migrants are finding themselves at the mercy of smuggling groups.

The report further revealed the European Union is now looking at how existing anti-money laundering tools can disrupt human trafficking networks. The report's authors said their work aims to showcase how to disrupt the finances of criminal networks responsible for human smuggling and trafficking.

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