Mediterranean - Refugee Situation

Lybian Coast

With the operational start of the refugee transfer between Greece and Turkey on 4th of April, old concerns about the oldest migration route in the Mediterranean has been re-emerging: According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) 18.795 refugees attempted to cross the sea between Libya and Italy, which is an increase of 85% from the same period in the year before. Simply by the geographical distance this route is not a real alternative to migrants already arrived in Greece, but it is still the best opportunity for migrants from Africa to reach the near by Italian Islands. 

In this context, the more than 2000 migrants, who had been rescued by Naval and Coast Guards Units solely on Monday this week as reported by the Italian Navy, might have to be recognized as a prediction of the upcoming season in the Mediterranean.

While the African countries efforts to handle the inner-continental migration movements had to be recognized as more or less effective in the past months, the ongoing political turmoils and uprising conflicts in subsaharan countries will probably turn the situation in the next months and cause a increasing number of migrants moving towards the European Unions Schengen-Realm in a hope for a better life.

Despite the progress of Operation SOPHIA to reduce and stop the human trafficking corridors starting from Libya, the foreseeable military engagement of western forces against IS affiliated islamist movement in the country may create a Gordian knot of different stakeholders interests. The maritime industry might be more or less affected, as the further security development in the region, especially by vessels passing the affected areas in the Mediterranean, is completely unpredictable.

That such situation is very likely is proven by the recent decision of the Austrian government based to build up border controls on the Brenner Pass with beginning of June this year to prevent illegal border crossings of migrants from Italian territory.

For more Information on this topic please click on the links below.

Report by President Tusk to European Parliament

Article at the Independent

EU Operation Sophia Report II/2015 on Wikileaks

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