EU Seeks to Aid Mediterranean Migrants
In the face of serious problems regarding migrants traversing the Mediterranean, the EU has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to sanction European efforts to counter the issue. Specifically, the EU is seeking to implement an interdiction and denial program for migrant vessels. Rescued migrants will not be repatriated to their home countries, but efforts will be made to preemptivally capture and destroy vessels which could be used to transport illegal migrants. As to how the EU intends to implement this program is still unknown, with EU ministers meeting to discuss the migrant crisis on May 18th.
While migrants have long embarked from North Africa for Europe for many years, numbers have increased as instability in the region has caused many to flee their homes. The fallout from the Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria and Libya, alongside region wide economic pressures has led tens of thousands to attempt the journey every year. 51,000 migrants have entered Europe in 2015 alone; with 1800 dying in the process, a death rate that is 30 times higher than the same period last year.
Some 30,500 of these migrants have landed in Italy, notably the tiny island of Lampedusa, which alongside the island nation of Malta constitutes one of the main ports of entry for migrants. Both Lampedusa and Malta are situated close to the North African coast and are currently overwhelmed by the veritable wave of humanity that is seeking refuge on its shores.
Local authorities as well as human rights activists have long accused the EU of being deaf to the plight of Mediterranean migrants. Public pressure, both within Europe and internationally is slowly galvanizing the EU to undertake a coordinated effort to address the problem. National coast guard services and local fisher folk have undertaken desperate attempts to save migrants, but without a coordinated operation involving EU member nation navies, these efforts are grossly inadequate.