10 EU Migrant Crisis Facts - WMNews Ep. 28



10 EU Migrant Crisis Facts - WMNews Ep. 28

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Angela Fafard

As the European Union prepares to launch a military operation in the hopes of limiting migration from the African horn, dozens continue to perish in the Mediterranean Sea. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from http://www.WatchMojo.com where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we're counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2015 Mediterranean Sea Migration.

Script written by Angela Fafard

10 EU Migrant Crisis Facts - WMNews Ep. 28

As the European Union prepares to launch a military operation in the hopes of limiting migration from the African horn, dozens continue to perish in the Mediterranean Sea. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this installment, we’re counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the 2015 Mediterranean Sea Migration.

#10: Who Is Making the Journey?
The Migrants

For several years, thousands of men and women have been making the arduous trek from the North of Africa to Europe in the hopes of attaining a better quality of life. Historically, a large majority of migrants were from Syria, Eritrea, Mali, Nigeria and Gambia, with an overwhelming proportion of those being male. In 2015, additional migrants made the trek from Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, the horn of Africa and more. This trend has continued in Syria, due to the ongoing and deadly civil conflict beginning with the 2011 Arab Spring protests that have led to the deaths of over 220,000 people and the displacement at least a third of the country’s population. This massive exodus is in line with global trends, as 30,000 people are reported to have fled their homes every day in 2014 as a result of violence, leading to over 38 million displaced people in the world.

#9: Why Are They Risking Their Lives?
The Civil Strife

The main reasons people are risking their lives to travel from Africa to Europe include escaping civil war, pervasive poverty and a lack of business and economic opportunities within their home countries. For example, there is a stark contrast in life expectancy, with sub-Saharan Africa’s being 47 years as opposed to 80 years in the Eurozone. Civil war is also a large motivator, with Syria, Libya and Iraq all in the midst of domestic conflict, which prompts civilians to escape their war-torn countries. According to Volker Tuerk, director for international protection with the Office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, a high degree of homeland misery and persecution have left migrants with no other option but to take unseaworthy boats to Europe.

#8: Which Routes Are Being Taken?
The Crossing

While there are numerous routes that can be taken, the Central migration route taking migrants from North Africa to Italy and Malta from a Libyan port has been the deadliest in the Mediterranean, especially when being compared to routes that journey to Apulia and Calabria, Italy. However, before reaching the port in Libya, a large majority of migrants must first travel through the sea of the Sahara, then the Sahara desert. And it is during this time that many die, as they face a dire lack of food and water, or are kidnapped, held for ransom or sold into forced slave labor. If they survive that, the difficulties don’t end at the main port in Libya, as many are forced to remain in the city and pay off their debt to smugglers for the first part of the journey. Once the debt is repaid or they are ready to undertake the final part of the journey, the potential migrants choose one out of many routes from the tip of North Africa to the Eurozone.

#7: What Are the Challenges Facing Europe?
The Economy

One of the biggest challenges facing Europe in its handling of migrants is its asylum system. The European Union currently has 28 member states, and each state has its own rules regarding asylum. Some member states, such as Greece and Italy, have had to deal with greater demands for asylum, as they are the first point of entry for the illegal migrants in question. This has placed an ever-increasing strain on affected countries’ economies, which have already been lagging. Additionally, the Eurozone is funding an expensive border security operation conducted by the EU agency Frontex called ‘Operation Triton,’ which began in November 2014. In April 2015, the budget for the 2015-16 year-long operation was tripled and set at $133 million. All this has led to a drain on the EU’s resources as it continues to grapple with its own economic issues, including the dire cash crunch in Greece, which threatens to topple the Eurozone into another recession.

#6: Who Is Saving the Migrants?
The Coast Guard

Operation Triton is the current border security mission, run by the Italian government and comprised of voluntary EU contributors, such as Iceland, Germany and France, that was launched in 2014 and set to last until at least 2016 in its search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean Sea. Operation Triton comes on the heels of the 2013-14 Operation ‘Mare Nostrum,’ which was also launched by the Italian government. During its yearlong operation, over 150,000 migrants safely made it from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. Unfortunately, the operation ended as the cost of $120 million for 12 months became too much for Italy to bear alone. That being said, following the deaths in April 2015 of over a thousand migrants in what’s known as the 2015 Mediterranean Sea Migrant Shipwrecks, an emergency meeting was called at which EU heads of states consented to triple the budget for Operation Triton. Additional naval patrol boats, helicopters and a UK Royal Navy assault ship were also agreed upon. Meanwhile, local fishermen have been aiding the military, as they’ve been to known to regularly pick up migrants floundering on sinking rafts instead of earning their living.

#5: Are People Benefiting?
The Smugglers

The lack of government stability in both Syria and Libya has led to a massive increase in smuggling activities and human rights violations. Smugglers and human traffickers also charge varying fees, depending on a person’s nationality; a sub-Saharan may be charged upwards of $700, while a Syrian could pay up to $2500. These payments are per person and do not take into account the number of people allowed on a boat, as vessels are typically dangerously overloaded. However, due to a saturated market, there have also been decreases in prices per person, leading smugglers to recoup their costs any way they can, including filling their boats with even larger numbers of migrants.

#4: What Is the Current Death Toll?
The Shipwrecks

The United Nations has described the crisis in the Mediterranean Sea as a “tragedy of epic proportions.” As of May 2015, the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea has increased sharply from the previous year, with an estimated 1,800 people feared to have drowned while making the perilous crossing. According to the International Organization for Migration, from January to April 2015, the death toll was 18 times larger than it was during the same period of the previous year. Furthermore, based on the current statistics and circumstances, the migrant death toll could reach 30,000 by the end of 2015.

#3: What Is the Proposed Solution?
The EU Quota

In May 2015, the European Union proposed a plan that would address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. Introduced to European officials in Brussels, the plan would include a quota system that would seek to stop the flow of illegal migrants by allowing 20,000 refugees into Europe over the next two years. With an estimated cost of nearly $56 million, the plan has faced direct opposition from member states that do not want to accept large numbers of refugees. Meanwhile, under the existing EU agreement, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark would be exempt from the mandatory refugee plan. This proposal has the potential to stir anti-migrant sentiments within the Eurozone, as many countries believe they have already done enough, with French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls notably saying “France has already done a lot.”

#2: How Will It Affect Surrounding Nations?
The Solution

As of early May 2015, the United Nations Security Council is drafting a solution that would target the smugglers and boats that depart from the main route in Libya. This would have multiple international ramifications, as it would not only permit European troops to act in international waters but also on Libyan soil. This is further complicated by the turmoil in Libya as the country is in the midst of a civil war with two warring government factions. Furthermore, international law bans the return of those fleeing persecution in their own countries, thereby requiring safe passage for boats intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea. The hope is that by targeting the smugglers at the root of the problem, it will limit the amount of shipwrecks and deaths at sea.

#1: What Will Happen to the Migrants?
The Future

As of May 2015, European Ministers have agreed to launch a sea and air mission that would include drones and surveillance equipment. These missions would eventually target and destroy human trafficking vessels, and allow for the boarding and searching of suspected vessels. This later phase is dependent on the passing of a UN Chapter 7 resolution, which would authorize the use of force. However, refugee rights groups have concerns regarding the use of military force, as they fear it could lead to an even greater number of deaths. If there are fewer vessels, the fear is that the remaining boats will carry an even greater number of people, or that people will resort to building their own boats. The Eurozone’s military proposal may be launched as early as late June of 2015, after which the outcome of the plan will be revealed while thousands continue to make the arduous journey to Europe.

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