Smugglers, some of them organised in networks, are profiting from migrants’ despair by selling them their services, making a fortune in the process and fueling their criminal enterprise with cash.

Refugees and migrants are not treated like first-class passengers when they set out for Europe: stowed away on cargo ships, piled onto dinghies, they are often abandoned, their smugglers no longer interested in their fate.

Who are those well-organised criminals hiding behind those ships? Are they members of criminal or even terrorist networks? Are these ‘ghost ships’ linked together? Can European countries really work together to detect these structures and unearth their financial flows?

A team consisting of three Belgian, two Jordanian, one Turkish, one Romanian, one Greek and one Italian journalist set out for an investigation, starting with the ships on which men, women and children are sent to “Fortress Europe”.

Photo © Gabriel Drogeanu

Fortress Europe
Team members

Delphine Reuter

Delphine Reuter is a Belgian freelance journalist, based in Brussels.

Hamoud Almahmoud

Hamoud Almahmoud is Editor in Chief of Harvard Business Review Arabia & Aliqtisadi.com.

Nadia Al Shiyyab

Nadia Al Shiyyab works as a researcher for the MENA Research and Data Desk Project at ARIJ.

Nikolia Apostolou

Nikolia Apostolou is a multimedia-journalist currently sharing her time between Kalamata and Athens, Greece.

Frédéric Loore

Frédéric Loore is a Belgian freelance journalist and regular contributor to Paris Match.

Giampaolo Musumeci

Giampaolo Musumeci is a freelance journalist and filmmaker reporting on African issues, immigration and war zones.

Catalin Prisacariu

Catalin Prisacariu is an investigative journalist based in Bucharest, Romania.

Catalin Prisacariu

Safak Timur

Safak Timur is an Istanbul based reporter for a decade, tries to tell the world about Turkey, mostly in English,

Jean-Yves Tistaert

Jean-Yves Tistaert is a consultant and press collaborator (Belgium).

Grant of €15.230, allocated on 28/10/2015



  • Cargos fantômes pour l'enfer (FR) - Marianne, 11 March 2016
  • قراصنة البحر المتوسط الحقيقيون... بزات أنيقة وياقات بيض (AR) - Alhayat, 3 March 2016
  • Cargos pour l'enfer (FR) - La Libre Belgique, 2 March 2016
  • Rețeaua româno-siriană a traficului de migranți spre Europa (RO) - Romania Libera, 2 March 2016

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