Europol coordinates referral action targeting migrant smuggling from Belarus

On 16 December, a total of 455 social media accounts facilitating the illegal immigration from Belarus to Europe have been targeted as a result of a large-scale referral action.

Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), together with the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) within Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) coordinated the referral activity which involved law enforcement authorities from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Germany.

The referral action focused on the collection of online content promoting illegal immigration services from Belarus to Europe, such as social media accounts advertising the sale of counterfeit ID documents, passports, visas or illegal transportation services. These accounts have been referred to the Online Service Providers with the request to review them against the terms of service.

The new Belarusian migratory route is heavily advertised to migrants on social media and instant messaging applications, which represents a significant pull factor. The misuse of these online platforms by facilitators led to a large increase of departures and irregular border crossings.

The organisation of this referral action has taken place in the context of the wider support that Europol is providing to EU Member States in countering migrant smuggling from Belarus to the EU.