The lack of agreement between European countries about migrant reception policies has been a pending issue since the 2015 crisis, despite countless attempts from the community bloc to address the situation. The rate of dead or missing migrants and refugees along the central Mediterranean route has risen to date in 2019. One in every 10 people lost their life in the attempt.
Yanet Llanes Alemán
The rate of dead or missing migrants and refugees along the central Mediterranean route (Libya-Italy) has risen to date in 2019, although there has been a decrease in the number of those that managed to reach Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
One in every 10 people lost their life in the attempt, which represents an increase in relation to the records from the same period in 2017 and 2018 (2.6% and 3.5%, respectively). Meanwhile, on the three Mediterranean routes, 356 deaths were recorded in total, according to the IOM, who also accounted for the arrival of 776 people by way of the route between Libya and Italy (532 to that nation and 244 to Malta), while the Coast Guard of the north African nation returned 1,073 migrants.
In Spain, around 5,600 individuals have arrived and another 5,621 have arrived in Greece, countries that have recorded the greatest number of arrivals by sea.
Many nations in northern and central Europe, such as Hungary and Poland, have declined to accept migrants, which has brought the situation to an impasse, according to analysts.
Three years after an agreement was signed between the EU and Turkey to reduce the migratory flow towards the continent, the topic continues to be a challenge for the region.
This even means some countries are sticking to internal border controls in the Schengen free movement area, despite the European Parliament considering that this is a consequence of mistakes in the asylum system, a lack of solidarity and political will.
Migratory policies open to question
The disagreement between European Union (EU) countries over welcoming a group of migrants and refugees including two children, on board a rescue vessel stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, has left its migratory policies, once more, hung out to dry.
The EU is at a crossroads due to the lack of consensus between its member states about offering a safe port to 64 people, arriving from Libya, who have been waiting since 3rd April in international waters.
After days of desperation over the health of the passengers and a lack of supplies, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, announced that it was organising help for those stranded in an attempt to resolve the issue, which drummed up media interest both inside and outside the region.
“Contacts have been put in place to coordinate those member states who wish to participate in the solidarity efforts for those people who are on board the ship”, it said.
On 3rd April, 64 migrants and refugees, who were adrift in the Mediterranean Sea after departing in a small boat from Libya, were rescued by the Alan Kurdi ship, from the German non-governmental organisation, Sea Eye.
After Italy rejected their reception at their ports, the vessel, which bears the name of the Syrian boy who drowned in 2015, asked for help from Malta, but at the time of writing this article, they had not been given the go-ahead.
Sea Eye warned on 9th April that the situation “is worsening every day” due to their health problems and lack of water and food.
During the day, bad weather forces them to be below deck, in a room designed for 20 people, although they total more than 80 between migrants and crew.
For his part, the German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, announced on 5th April that the country is open to welcome some of them, but at the same time he made a call to his European colleagues so that they would also help the Alan Kurdi.
Since 2015, when more than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe, Italy alongside Greece, became the main entrances to the so-called old continent, taking in thousands of people who, primarily, are fleeing in hunger and from wars in African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
However, last June, Rome closed its doors to sea-going maritime salvage ships from non-governmental organisations, considering this to increase the activities of people trafficking mafias.
Since then, every time that a rescue takes place, there has to be a negotiation about the arrival port and later, dispersal of the migrants, as happened at the end of December with Sea Watch 3 and Professor Albrecht Penck, cast adrift for several days in international waters with dozens of migrants on board.
Europe “has a clear message for our survivors. We don’t want you here. Therefore, these people are trapped in inflatable boats, between two worlds, who show us two different types of desperation”, rebuked the Sea Eye chief, Gordon Isler.
Mediterranean nations criticise the EU for its slowness in relocating the migrants, just like the inefficiency of its mechanisms to disperse them in a balanced way to the rest of the States.
Although a decrease in the number of arrivals with respect to previous years has been recorded, the crisis continues and they are not making any decisions about how to deal with the problem, due to disagreements among the Club members, which was evidenced at the last meeting between the ministers of Justice and EU Interior Affairs in March in Brussels. (PL)
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)