Tuesday July 9, 2019
African migrants continue to drown in the Mediterranean Sea en-route to Europe. File photo
DESPITE the risks posed by deadly routes across the Mediterranean, unscrupulous agents facilitating the movement of migrants and hostile legislation by European government, African nationals continue streaming into Europe in search of greener pastures.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM),a United Nations agency, at least 137 people have died and 8 000 immigrants have sailed to Spain through the Mediterranean Sea.
In general in the four months from January 1 to 1 May, 16 806 people crossed the sea to go to Europe. Overall, at least 410 people died on all routes across the sea
There are indications more children than the reported 1 600 have died over the past five years during boat journeys to Europe.
In 2010, 9 700 illegal immigrants arrived in Europe by sea. In 2011, they were already 70 000 people. In 2012, 22 500 immigrants arrived on European shores.
In 2013, the figure was slightly higher at 60 000.
There was a spike in 2014 with 219 000 people arriving in Europe.
There was alarm among European countries in 2015 when 239 200 illegal immigrants landed on their shores. In 2015, the central Mediterranean axis became one of the three most popular routes in the world for irregular migrants, most of them illegal refugees from Eritrea, Nigeria, from the southern part of the Sahara Desert.
Most of the migrants travel to Europe from Libyan ports. They are mostly from Djibouti Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia.
Most of these countries are beset by conflict, forcing the migrants to pay fees to illegal agents to facilitate their journeys via the sea.
The situation remains critical.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) and SOS Mediterranee, a maritimehumanitarian organisation, said the avoidable deaths exposed the human cost of reckless European migration policies.
“The response by European governments to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea and Libya has been a race to the very bottom,” said Annemarie Loof, MSF Operational Manager.
She pleaded for an end to the de-humanisation of vulnerable people at sea for alleged political gain.
“Yet one year on, the European response has reached deplorable new lows,” Loof said.
Recently, the United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) raised concern at a recent decree from the government of Italy containing several provisions affecting refugees and migrants, including fines for vessels engaged in saving lives at sea.Some 1 151 vulnerable men, women and children have died and over 10 000 more forcibly returned to Libya a year after the first political stand-off over the fate of people rescued in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
Roland Schilling, UNHCR regional representative, said at a time when European states largely withdrew from rescue efforts in the Central Mediterranean, NGO vessels were more crucial than ever.
“Without them, it is inevitable that more lives will be lost,” Schilling
In 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the European Union should put in place a fair system of distribution of migrants, regardless of their geographical location.
Meanwhile, Sudan has offered a glimmer of hope in the quest to fight illegal immigration.
The European Union (EU) and the United States (US) have appreciated the efforts.
According to unofficial data, between 2016 and 2018 the EU allocated € 200 million in material aid to Sudan to combat illegal migration.
The progress made in fighting illegal immigration is among the conditions for the lifting of sanctions slapped again Sudan.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under the command of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, is credited with the breakthroughs. For example, the RSF petrols dangerous roads of the corridor and rescued from troubles the migrants who are captured by human traffickers. One of the recent incidents took place in October 2018, when the RSF stopped the transfer of 60 hostages to Libya.