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Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe
An aerial photo shows a boat carrying migrants stranded in the Strait of Gibraltar before being rescued by the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Salvamento Maritimo sea search and rescue agency that saw 157 migrants rescued on September 8, 2018. While the overall number of migrants reaching Europe by sea is down from a peak in 2015, Spain has seen a steady increase in arrivals this year and has overtaken Italy as the preferred destination for people desperate to reach the continent. Over 33,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea and land so far this year, and 329 have died in the attempt, according to the International Organization for Migration. / AFP PHOTO / Marcos Moreno

Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe

They scale barbed-wire topped fences and cross the sea in inflatable boats or jet skis — more than 36,000 migrants entered Spain this year seeking a better life in Europe. Almost all of them relied on smugglers to make the crossing.
Ousman Umar, who made a five-year journey from Ghana to Spain, said it was “impossible” to travel thousands of kilometres (miles) from sub-Saharan Africa through deserts and other inhospitable areas without the aid of gangs.

“There is almost no chance of reaching Europe illegally” without paying traffickers, Robert Crepinko, the head of the human smuggling unit at Europol, the European Union’s policing arm, told AFP.

Ninety percent of migrants who enter Europe are helped by human traffickers, he added, citing a 2015 study.

Spain has become the main entry point for migrants arriving this year,after Italy and Greece.