Thursday, February 15, 2007

Perspective: From Iraq to Sweden, human smugglers have a package to suit all refugees

UPPSALA, Sweden: For most who are touched by it, the war in Iraq is about loss and fear. But for some, it is an opportunity to make money.

As the situation inside Iraq has deteriorated and more and more Iraqis try to flee the chaos, the human smuggling business here in faraway Sweden is experiencing a boom.

This Nordic country is the major destination for Iraqis fleeing to Europe. Now, several high-profile arrests and trials here are shedding light on how smugglers helped most of the refugees come here, fulfilling — while also profiteering from — a pressing humanitarian need.

"It is very difficult to come to the European Union legally, so people who want to flee are forced to turn to smugglers," said Magnus Berggren, the public prosecutor in a court case against suspected human smugglers being heard in this university town 70 kilometers, or 45 miles, north of Stockholm.

"But while I have full understanding that people want to leave Iraq," Berggren added, "what bothers me is that some people are making big money on the misfortune of others."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune