Image: AP / AP
2019 and the dying man continues: you must know the situation in the Mediterranean
The emergency call arrived on Friday morning. A reconnaissance aircraft has sighted the boat that licks to 45 nautical miles from the coast of Libya and has contacted the coast guards in Italy, Tunisia and Libya.
Italy then declared Libya responsible, the Libyan Coast Guard sent a ship, but after a short time had to go back due to engine damage. As a result, the Libyan emergency center no longer responded, according to the NGOs.
The boat fell under the floods on Friday afternoon. Three people were finally rescued by the Italian Navy on Friday evening, drowning 117 people, including a dozen women and two small children.
The day before a refugee boat had sunk with 54 people between Morocco and Spain, only one man could be rescued from a fishing boat.
The Mediterranean must be sealed so that the refugee boats do not even leave the Libyan coast: this was the promise made by the European Union in the summer of 2018. The Libyan Coast Guard, with EU funds, will take over of the Mediterranean Sea rescue.
In 2018, the numbers on the Mediterranean routes have fallen dramatically. According to UNHCR refugee relief, 172,301 people reached the border with the EU in 2017, a year later this number dropped to 138,882. The number of deaths also fell from 3,139 to 2,275.
This year, 200 people have already lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In the same period 202 people died in the last year, in 2017 there were 234 and in 2016, six months after the so-called refugee crisis, 179 died in an attempt to reach the European coasts.
The number of people who made the crossing did not decrease sharply. 4,216 people reached European soil in the first three weeks of the new year, with 7,167 in January 2018.
Image: AP / AP
After Italy closed the ports for refugee ships under the new interior minister Matteo Salvini in June, NGOs lack contact points.
Symbolic was the case of the two ships "Sea-Watch 3" and "Professor Albrecht Penck". From mid-December to mid-January, 49 migrants were arrested on the two non-governmental vessels because neither Italy nor Malta gave permission. The drama ended only when Valetta relented, but in return obtained the guarantee that 249 migrants already in Malta would be distributed among the countries of the EU.
Meanwhile, only the Sea-Watch 3, a ship operated by a German crew and flying under the Dutch flag, sails between Italy and the North African coast. Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer told Watson that Europe has long since ceased its responsibilities in the Mediterranean. "Here, European migration policy is implemented at the expense of refugees".
For the Italian minister of Salvini, it is clear that NGO ships cause a so-called attraction factor. Joel Millmann, spokesman for the international intergovernmental organization for the migration of IOM, rejects this statement: "I do not think there is a correlation between the number of NGO ships and the number of migrants coming out". The neighboring ship is obliged to assist ships in distress.
The situation in Libya
In the last days more ships have left the Libyan coast, despite the unfavorable weather conditions prevailing in January in the central Mediterranean. "High waves and strong winds endanger boats that are often small and non-oceanic," says IOM Millmann's spokesperson.
The fact that so many migrants have the courage to cross the river, on the one hand, has something to do with the conditions in the Libyan detention centers, which according to reports deride any description.
Italian media have speculated over the weekend that the political conditions in the country in difficulty have contributed to this. The state of the Maghreb did not have a functioning government after the overthrow of the dictator Muammar Gadhafi of a year, with several militias fighting for supremacy.
The instability in Libya also affects the navy, which has been entrusted with the lion's share of the rescue at sea. For the migration expert Raphael Bossong of the German Science and Policy Foundation, SWP is sure: "The Libyan Coast Guard has limited ability to protect the Mediterranean".
Nonetheless, Italy and the EU continued to support the strategy of supporting the fragile unitary government – including the catastrophic conditions in which migrants are detained by smugglers in Libyan warehouses, according to Bossong.
The route of Spain
After the route between Morocco and Spain has long been considered dense, in mid-2018 there has been an increase in crossings following the agreement with Libya. In 2019, the numbers have even exploded: "In the first 20 days of 2019, many people as in 2018 have arrived in the first three months," says IOM Millman's spokesperson. Millman attributes this to the catastrophic conditions in Libya. "Many migrants will say: it is easier and safer to venture from Morocco over the border rather than endure catastrophic conditions in Libyan tugs".
While the recovery of the two accidents still lasts, the Sea-Watch saved at the weekend 47 people from difficulties. Two days earlier, 68 people were taken from the Italian Coast Guard in the Mediterranean.
If the numbers increase again this year, it remains open. The migration expert Bossong doubts: "I do not expect a sudden increase in 2019. I would rather expect a steady flow, so we could end up with a total of 100,000 migrants."
The fact that the probability of dying in the Mediterranean has increased significantly compared to 2018 and 2017 has not yet led to any significant political protest in European countries. Bossong observes an apathy for the migration: "Public opinion is completely blunt in almost all European countries, and a breakthrough can not be seen anywhere in spite of the recent terrible events".
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