The deadliest single incident in Europe’s current migrant crisis claims over 800 lives. That this is a humanitarian crisis of an alarming—and still rising – scale is becoming clearer and clearer to more people, and EU governments are scrambling for possible solutions. EU leaders have since decided to triple search and rescue spending in the Mediterranean. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at this complex and pressing international issue.
The European Migration Crisis
Hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants, refugees and asylum seekers escaping from war and/or hardship in Africa and the Middle East, are resorting to irregular migration toward Europe. One of the most favored routes is over the Mediterranean Sea, where overburdened or barely-seaworthy ships are often spotted overflowing with people and requiring assistance. This has created grave financial burdens for countries which have to handle the protection of their national borders, conduct search and rescue operations, and provide processing and care for the migrants after they are out of the water. This is especially problematic for European countries already besieged by economic problems.
The Central Mediterranean passage between Libya and Italy is especially hard-hit; in 2014, most of the 3,279 migrant deaths on the Mediterranean occurred here, and by the end of 2015, experts say the death toll could reach 30,000. In just a single incident in April, over 800 people died attempting to make the crossing.
The EU Response
Affected countries have acted out individually in a myriad of ways, including tighter border control procedures for Greece, inclusive immigration policies for Germany and Sweden, and the phased-out rescue program “Mare Nostrum” for Italy. “Mare Nostrum” has since been replaced by an EU-backed “Triton” program with a far more limited budget.
A few days after April’s unfathomable tragedy, however, EU leaders came together and agreed to spend thrice as much on naval search and rescue on the Mediterranean. The uptick in funding brings Triton up to $130 million annually, matching “Mare Nostrum.”
Concerns still remain over whether the increased rescue activities are enough; if the increased efforts actually create a “pull” that encourages more people to make the risky trip; and what long-term effects could be, especially given the financial burdens to EU states and the increasing anti-immigrant sentiment from their citizens.
^ “EU Triples Mediterranean SAR Spending.” The Maritime Executive, 23 Apr 2015. Web. 02 May 2015. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/eu-triples-mediterranean-sar-spending
^ Parke, Jeanne. “CFR Backgrounders: Europe’s Migration Crisis.” CFR.org, 23 Apr 2015. Web. 02 May 2015. http://www.cfr.org/migration/europes-migration-crisis/p32874
^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Mediterranean boat capsizing: deadliest incident on record.” UNHCR.org, 21 Apr 2015. Web. 02 May 2015. http://www.unhcr.org/553652699.html
^ Image “Dollar Sign In The Lifebuoy” courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net