According to UN, so far more than 2500 people died this year, trying to cross the Mediterranean sea. The number of people trying to cross the sea has increased this year(3 Lakh till now) compared to 2014(2.2 lakh in total).
Many shipwrecks happened this year alone, drowning thousands of people. They are exploited by people traffickers.
Reasons for migration in to EU
- Close geographical proximity to Africa and Middle East. Libya and Turkey are one the main transit points to Europe, immigrants land at Italy or Greece before moving in to other parts of Europe
- Political and economic instability in its neighbouring countries. Majority come from Syria, next are Afghans, Eritreans, Nigeria and Kosovo (mostly Roma people).
- Social welfare schemes by host countries, sometimes extend to illegal migrants as well
- EU has a borderless system established through Schengen border code which eliminated systematic frontier controls across much of Europe(Britain not a part of it)
- This incentivises people to first get to Europe as they hope to find shelter somewhere on the continent
Response of EU countries
- Britain called for reform of the borderless system
- Germany which receives disproportionate number of immigrants, calling for fairer distribution
- Italy calls for EU to get involved in Africa and Middle East to improve living conditions there, so that the immigration becomes less attractive
- Hungary, which is part the Schengen zone, is building a fence along its border with Serbia to contain what it calls a threat to European security, prosperity and identity. France criticized Hungary for not welcoming refugees, which goes against the values of EU
- The EU’s external border force, Frontex, carries out the rescue missions, but there are problems with its funding as the costs have risen exponentially
- Italy abandoned its Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue mission last year after some EU members – including the UK – said they could not afford to fund it. The decision was widely criticised by rights groups.
- In April EU leaders also pledged to beef up maritime patrols in the Mediterranean, disrupt people trafficking networks and capture and destroy boats before migrants board them. Any military action would have to conform to international law.
- And huge questions remain over how the migrants who arrive in the EU are dealt with.
- Championing the rights of poor migrants is difficult as the economic climate is still gloomy, many Europeans are unemployed and wary of foreign workers, and EU countries are divided over how to share the refugee burden.
- Implementation of the Common European Asylum System has become a challenge.