So last week the biggest story in the news was the boat sinking in the Mediterranean that was carrying about 750 passengers. The last report I saw was that about 1/2 of the passengers were rescued, but there is no count yet on the number of people that died. This week the biggest story was on the billionaires who perished on their joyride to see the Titanic. Both stories are a tragedy. However, the story about migrant boat has been played out time after time during the last few years.
I asked the AI to tell me about the causes of the illegal migration to Europe, and asked what the European Governments are doing for the problem:
Title: Understanding Migration across the Mediterranean: Causes and the European Response
The last two decades have seen a significant increase in irregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe. The crisis, as it’s often called, is a complex interplay of political, economic, social, and human rights factors that have forced many to undertake dangerous journeys in search of safer and better lives. Simultaneously, the European response to this situation has been diverse, often controversial, and deemed inadequate in many quarters. This essay aims to examine the principal causes of this migratory pattern and the European Union’s (EU) approach towards migrants.
Firstly, it’s vital to explore the reasons prompting individuals and groups to risk their lives crossing the perilous waters of the Mediterranean. Political instability is perhaps the most significant driver. Several countries, such as Syria, Libya, and other North African nations, have suffered from severe governance crises and prolonged conflicts, causing large sections of the population to flee. In Syria, for instance, an ongoing civil war since 2011 has led to millions seeking refuge elsewhere, many of whom attempt to reach Europe.
Another significant factor contributing to the migration crisis is economic hardship. Many of the migrants are from Sub-Saharan Africa, a region afflicted with high levels of poverty and economic instability. Countries like Eritrea, Sudan, and Ethiopia have regularly been the source of migrants seeking better economic opportunities in Europe.
Moreover, worsening environmental conditions and climate change have begun to create what is often referred to as ‘climate refugees’. Issues like desertification, particularly in parts of Africa, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, have made many areas uninhabitable and are contributing to mass migration.
However, the perilous journey across the Mediterranean is not always a choice made in desperation. It is also fueled by smuggling networks that profit from human misery. Smugglers exploit vulnerable people by promising them safe passage to Europe, often leading to tragedies at sea when overcrowded, unseaworthy boats capsize or break down.
In response to this growing humanitarian crisis, the European approach has been varied and complex, often straddling the line between national security concerns and human rights obligations. One of the primary reasons why it seems that European countries do not protect people trying to cross via boat is related to the concept of ‘deterrence’. By not making the journey more secure or comfortable, the reasoning goes, fewer people will attempt it. However, this approach has been widely criticized by human rights organizations, who argue it exacerbates the risks migrants face.
The Dublin Regulation, which mandates that refugees must seek asylum in the first EU country they enter, has also influenced the European response. Countries like Italy and Greece, which are often the first entry points for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, argue that the rule places an unfair burden on them. The lack of a unified European asylum policy has led to tensions within the EU and has arguably inhibited a more effective and humanitarian response to the crisis.
Furthermore, many European countries have tightened their border controls and immigration policies in response to rising anti-immigrant sentiments and the perceived threat to national security. This has led to the increased use of detention and deportation as deterrents, which have been criticized for violating migrants’ human rights and dignity.
However, Europe’s response has not been solely restrictive. EU organizations like Frontex are involved in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, often working with NGOs and national coast guards. There have also been efforts to combat smuggling networks, and some European countries have initiated resettlement programs for refugees.
In conclusion, the crisis of migration across the Mediterranean is a complex issue shaped by a myriad of factors. While political instability, economic hardship, environmental changes, and human smuggling fuel the crisis, the European response has been a controversial blend of restrictive measures and rescue efforts. A more unified, comprehensive approach
that upholds migrants’ human rights, while addressing the root causes of the crisis, is necessary for a sustainable solution. Furthermore, the global community must engage in a concerted effort to tackle the underlying issues that drive people to embark on these dangerous journeys in the first place. In the words of Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, “Migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding. It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike.”