Interpol announced on Thursday that an Eritrean national characterized as the "most wanted human trafficker," Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, was arrested in Sudan on Jan. 1 in an operation led by the United Arab Emirates.
On Interpol's radar since 2019, Habtemariam was the subject of two "Red Notices" for crimes related to migrant smuggling and human trafficking. He is accused of leading a major criminal organization behind the kidnapping, extortion, and murder of East African migrants.
Arresting Habtemariam will surely disrupt a major people smuggling route into Europe and protect thousands of vulnerable people, as he was the mastermind behind his criminal organization's migrant transferring operations. In addition, it shows that the international community can hold dangerous people smugglers accountable for their crimes through collaboration.
Though people smuggling gangs indeed put the lives of thousands of vulnerable migrants at risk and must be held accountable, the main focus of the international community ought to be on the core underlying issues that drive these patterns. Meanwhile, the EU should make it easier for these migrants to enter its territory and legally claim asylum.