Violent conflicts, terrorism, long-standing repressive regimes, chronic poverty and inequality have driven an unprecedented number of refugees and migrants to Europe. Those making the journey are assisted by an increasingly violent and opportunistic smuggling industry. Sustainable profits made by this industry have allowed transnational networks to develop where they previously did not exist, with serious implications for human security and state stability. Effective responses will require an understanding of the drivers and dynamics of the crisis. This understanding should be sufficiently nuanced to recognise that each journey of migration is defined by the ethnicity, income level and country of origin of the migrants, as well as by a highly responsive smuggling industry.