Addressing the refugee crisis

Addressing the refugee crisis
Nearly 100 refugees are feared to have died after the rubber inflatable boat transporting them off the Libyan coast, capsized. According to the Libyan coastguard, more than..

Nearly 100 refugees are feared to have died after the rubber inflatable boat transporting them off the Libyan coast, capsized. According to the Libyan coastguard, more than 100 people were on the boat and there were only 17 survivors from the accident.  

Europe is at the centre of the immigrant crisis and the European Union has often been accused of not taking comprehensive measures to counter the problem.

Background

Since the 1950s, many nations in Africa have suffered civil wars and ethnic strife, thus generating a massive number of refugees of many different nationalities and ethnic groups.

Europe is at the center of a crisis sparked by migration. In 2015 alone more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe. A number of countries in the continent struggled to handle the influx of people entering their territories. Countries within the EU have had disagreements on how best to deal with the problem while also helping those seeking refuge.

Much of the migration from Africa comes to Italy. According to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 98,072 people came from Africa to Italy from January 2017 to August 23rd, 2017. Italy has worked with Libya to address migration. It should be noted that compared to the same period the previous year, Italy saw 7,000 fewer migrants reaching its shores.

In August 2017, leaders of European and African nations held wide-ranging talks to address this migration crisis. These countries are in the transit route for most who flee Africa in order to escape oppression and violence. The European nations have agreed to help Chad and Niger to help improve their border controls.

At the time French President Macron said, “The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum. We'll go to them.” He also noted that the meeting was amongst the most effective ones that has been held in the recent past. He added, “We must all act together - from the source countries to Europe and passing by the transit countries, especially Libya - to be efficient. It’s a challenge as much for the EU as for the African Union."

 

Analysis

Nearly 100 refugees are feared to have died after the rubber inflatable boat transporting them off the Libyan coast, capsized. The boat had been carrying more than 100 people, according to the Libyan coastguard.

Ayub Qasim, the spokesperson for the Libya’s coastguard, noted that the boat sank near the city of Khoms, which is located in eastern Libya. The Mediterranean Sea is a popular yet deadly route used by African refugees trying to reach Europe. According to UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM), this region is the world’s deadliest border. The organization notes that 3,116 people died in 2017 trying to reach Europe from Africa via this sea.

As migration routes have been shut down Europe, hundreds of thousands of refugees are held back in detention centres in Libya. There have also been reports of refugee abuse and harassment in these camps. Organizations like Amnesty have often blamed Europe and the European Union for being complicit in this crisis.

In terms of the accident that took place in January 2018, there were only 17 survivors. They were found clinging to the boat’s wreckage. Libya remains the centre point for most refugees seeking to leave Africa to reach Europe. However, the nation itself has been plunged in domestic crisis since 2011 after the removal of Muammar Gaddafi.

A correspondent for Al Jazeera noted, “Libya's coastguard is badly equipped and they are blaming the European Union for not providing enough resources to combat this crisis. Officials here also worry that this crisis, if it escalates, could be used for international intervention in Libya.”

This isn’t the first accident that took place in the region in 2018. Over the weekend 64 refugees died as a result of a shipwreck. Italy’s coastguard confirmed that the boat had been carrying 150 people and that 86 of them had been rescued.

Overall, the number of refugees entering Europe via sea from Africa has come down in recent months. In 2017, 171,635 migrants and refugees entered Europe via sea from the region. This is a 50% drop from the previous year.

Assessment

Our assessment is that there needs to be a long term and a short term approach to resolving the refugee crisis. In the short term, authorities should work towards ensuring that these journeys are made safer for the men, women and children who brave dangerous conditions due to desperation. In the long term, the core issues driving people to become refugees need to be addressed. Nations in Africa are still crippled under lack of education, poverty, and political instability that have resulted in violence and civil wars. 

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