A Pakistan-based human trafficking ring has set up a successful business in Malta, where Pakistanis seeking illegal entry into mainland Europe are being furnished with new travel documents and transported on to Italy and Spain, according to a report published in a leading Pakistani daily newspaper on Friday.
The report cites sources within the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), who say that the illegal migration of Pakistanis to Europe is being carried out through Malta, from where the migrants are being transported by ship to Sicily and onward to countries such as Italy and Spain.
The sources quoted said that human traffickers have established a network in Malta, where legal travel documents are arranged for their “clients”. The clients, according to the sources, are purportedly entering Malta as tourists and then moving on, documents supplied in Malta in hand, to their final destinations in mainland Europe.
The sources were quoted as describing how illegal migrants were being charged between e5,600 and e7,500 by “a person” who was arranging legal entry into Malta and later into Spain and Italy by ship.
Trafficking agents in Pakistan, according to the sources, inform migrants they are to be taken to Malta, from where they would be transported to their target destination on new passports that would be given to them in Malta.
Half of the fee is paid in advance in Pakistan before departure, while the migrants fork out the other half of the payment after reaching Malta, according to the report.
The same sources told the paper, The News, that another segment of the operation had established networks in Malawi, Guinea, Mozambique and Kenya, where Pakistani migrants were also being sent for transport to Europe.
Many times, a senior FIA official was quoted as saying, Pakistani families were paying for their children’s passages to Europe after being enticed by the prospect of better jobs and lives for their children. It was, however, difficult to investigate such crimes since families rarely brought the issue to the authorities, except when their loved ones ended up being deported or faced other problems once abroad.