Since 2010 in a small neighborhood in the heart of Izmir, a local economy has sprung as a result of “in-transit” migrants. Hotels, internet cafes, international phone centers, custom grocery shops selling life vests and other seaborne equipment, are all offspring of the thriving business of human smuggling. Smugglers could bear the face of a hotel manager, a street shoe cleaner, a green grocer and even that of a migrant himself.
“In transit” is a status that could last from a few hours to a few days or even weeks and sometimes can end up being months or even years. Stuck in cheap hotels or private houses, migrants wait for the fusion of three decisive factors: the establishment of the right connections, the gathering of the necessary funds and the arrival of the suitable weather conditions, before they can finally embark on the four-mile trip. Although, at that point, the destination may appear to be a heartbeat away, the trip ahead is extremely dangerous and is often fatal.
Since the neighborhood, where this project was set, operated on a semilegitimate basis, securing the trust of the “migration facilitators” was essential.