Last week, over 11,000 people seeking refuge in Europe crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived on the small Italian island of Lampedusa. But is the EU’s plan to stop the boats from leaving Tunisia in the first place the solution?
Last week over 11,000 people seeking refuge in Europe crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived on the small Italian island of Lampedusa.
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe is not a new phenomenon, but the European Union is still struggling to get a grip on it.
The EU has a range of rules to manage migration but it’s countries like Italy with vast coastlines which inevitably shoulder the biggest burden.
The right-wing Italian prime minister, Georgia Meloni, was elected last year on a hardline anti-immigration platform. She warned she would not allow Italy to become “Europe’s refugee camp.”
The number of migrants landing in Italy this year has reached 127,000 – that’s more than double the number than during the same period last year.
Most of the boats arriving in Lampedusa set off from the beaches of Tunisia.
In July, the EU signed a deal with the government in Tunis – worth £105 million – to try and stop them from making the crossing.
But the Tunisian President, Kais Saied has been widely condemned for leading an autocratic, racist regime. Critics of the deal said European countries which claim to promote human rights and democracy shouldn’t be paying the Tunisian government to suppress migration.
There are deeper concerns that simply trying to stop boats on the beaches of Tunisia is not a long term solution to a problem which is only going to get much worse.
The climate crisis means more and more people will be forced to migrate north to escape extreme heat.
Despite migration featuring heavily in national political debates, European countries are wholly unprepared for the migration crisis which has already landed on their shores.