- Facebook pages advertise trips for thousands from Europe and Turkey
- Boast of the safety of their boats – and offer family travel discounts
- It is unclear if these pages breach any of Facebook’s guidelines
- Illegal journeys like these have already killed more than 1,700 this year
People smugglers are using Facebook to advertise their illegal and often deadly trips across the Mediterranean from war-ravaged Syria.
The pages – some of which are filed under ‘travel and leisure – offer those desperate to flee the violence and terror which grips their home country a way to escape, albeit for a price which can run into thousands.
Each tries to attract their customers with a different promise: ‘very safe’, reads one, while another offers half price travel for children.
What none of them is keen to admit to is the more than 1,700 people who have perished making the crossing since January – a figure which is likely to rise as more people attempt to reach Europe’s shores.
Mohammed Al Masri has 3,227 ‘likes’ and a picture of a yacht as his profile picture.
His cover photo, meanwhile, is a map of the path from Libya to Malta, and posts boast of his ‘low price’ trips from Alexandra to Italy, some with food all inclusive, direct ‘Allah willing’.
‘Any child under eight in the family travels free and a private room for children and women in the yacht. Each passenger can carry one bag,’ the post explains, adding people needed to switch off their mobile phones ‘for your safety’.
Normally, he offers trips for all nationalities, but just days ago, he was informing his ‘friends’ they had a yacht ready to go to Italy – but it couldn’t take Syrians, or children ‘due to the difficulty in insuring passengers from Egyptian sea ports’.
‘We are looking for Sudanese brothers,’ he writes.
Others like Noor Mandy, which classes itself as ‘travel and leisure’, say they have trips to both Italy and Greece, costing just £2,000 to reach Italy and £2,900 for Greece – ‘with insurance’.
‘Migrate to Europe from Lebanon and Turkey and all services for Syrians’, which has 93 likes, has posts offering trips from Turkey to Greece – but asks people to message privately.
Other pages have mispelt the word Europe – potentially to avoid detection from the authorities which want to shut them down.
Ones where it is spelled correctly have very few followers.
The Way to Europe, which has the words ‘very safe’ written across the profile picture, has 6,408 likes, while Safe Migration to Europe has 6,128 likes.
This last page explains how not all ways to Europe are safe – but says they offer safe trips.
However, one does suggest there have been problems getting people across the Med – but offers another, even more expensive alternative.
‘Due to a halt in sea trips in Turkey, we have land travel available which is secure 100 per cent from Turkey direct to Austria and Germany with private cars,’ it claims in a post.
‘This is in agreement with port security. Travel is within two days to three from the time an agreement is made. The trip is two days.’
The trip will cost the person as much as £12,300 for those who want to reach Germany, and needs to be paid on arrival.
Whether or not these pages break any of Facebook rules is unclear: the social media giant has been contacted for a comment.