“Astonishingly, over 64% of fatalities on migrant paths in the Mediterranean Sea this year belonged to Africans!”
Can you believe it? Record numbers of people are attempting to reach the European Union (EU) via illegal Mediterranean Sea routes in the first quarter of this year, resulting in a record number of deaths since 2017.
Like seriously, what is happening? The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures indicate that of the 273 identified dead bodies this year, 176 were from Africa. And get this, EU governments have been blamed for delays and gaps in state-led search-and-rescue efforts. It’s just unacceptable, you know?
But wait, let’s not forget that Tunisia contributes about 60% of people crossing into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. It’s like, wow! According to IOM, migrants travel from the shores of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria, making Tunisia the newest frontier.
And can you imagine, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) revealed that the central Mediterranean route is the most popular, accounting for 28,000 of all arrivals via the sea.
It seems like the lack of strong institutions in the countries they are coming from makes it easier for organised crime groups to smuggle migrants across the central Mediterranean from Tunisia and Libya. It’s just insane, don’t you think?
But the IOM is pointing fingers at governments’ unwillingness to help illegal travellers, claiming it’s the reason for the record number of deaths.
The director general, António Vitorino, insists that, “with more than 20,000 deaths recorded on this route since 2014, I fear that these deaths have been normalised. States must respond.
Delays and gaps in state-led search and rescue efforts are costing human lives.” I mean, come on, this is just cruel, right?
So, in summary, there are three Mediterranean Sea routes into Europe: central, western, and eastern. The central Mediterranean is mostly used by those crossing from North Africa into Italy, with the western part of the Mediterranean used by people arriving in Spain from Morocco, and the eastern Mediterranean, which has no link with Africa, is used for traffic between Turkey and Greece, as well as Cyprus and Bulgaria.
But let’s not forget, according to IOM’s Julia Black, who works with the Missing Migrants Project, the majority of people who crossed into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea were from Africa, and that the highest number of deaths were also recorded among Africans.
In fact, we have recorded 580 total deaths in the Mediterranean, out of which 273 are identified. And get this, less than half of those who died were identified. Of those 273 identified, 176 people were from Africa, which is 64.5% out of the total people identified. And these figures are only from January to early April! It’s heartbreaking.
Last week, an independent support group for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the EU, Alarm Phone, reported that there were 400 people stranded near the coast of Malta.
Luckily, they’ve since been rescued by the Italian Coastguard and taken to Vibo Valentia for medical care. But not all boats are as fortunate. In fact, just this week, Refugees In Libya reported that an overcrowded boat carrying 123 people, including 30 women, 13 children, and babies, had sunk off the Tunisian coast on Monday night. So sad.
It’s no wonder migration into Europe, with Italy as the first host country where refugees enter, has caused strain on the government. In March, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is anti-immigration, vowed to stiffen punishments to deter smugglers after a wooden boat packed with migrants from Africa broke apart, leading to a disaster.
The Axadle Africa Desk is supported by the Axadle Foundation. The stories produced through the Axadle Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Axadle Foundation.