Refugees and Migrants’ Journey Across The Mediterranean Sea

A migrant boat travelling from Sub- Sahara Africa to Italy has left 20 dead and 20 missing after the boat sank near Tunisia. According to the BBC news, Tunisian coast guards were able to retrieve bodies off Sfax’s coastal city in central Tunisia on Thursday, with five survivors rescued. It was estimated that 45 people were travelling on the boat. Ali Ayria, a National Guard spokesperson, told the Associated Press that the boat might have sunk due to passengers’ overload and the strong winds.

Thousand of migrants and refugees every year attempt to make the journey to cross the Mediterranean sea to get to Europe by using the main departure points Tunisian and Libya. Most making this journey across the Mediterranean sea are fleeing economic hardships and crises happening at home. It has been reported that Italy has been struggling with the daily arrival of hundreds of migrants and refugees amid the ongoing coronavirus.

According to a report on the trends of migrants’ and refugees’ journeys across the sea by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 2,725 people have perished in the Mediterranean sea during 2018. In addition, it was also reported that many individuals on these boats were typically sick and would be sailing on the sea for days before they were granted permission to relocate by European states. In 2019, the UNHCR noted the root cause of many migrants’ and refugees’ movements towards fleeing by sailing through the sea was due to human rights violations and poverty. For many of these migrants and refugees, travelling from the Mediterranean sea to Europe was the final step in their journey. Most travelled through other conflict zones, escaped kidnapping, and being trafficked. The UNCHR has recommended that many neighbouring states to allow asylum seekers, especially children who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence to seek refuge.

Based on trends from 2019 and current trends, the UNCHR has made several recommendations to European states to ensure refugees and migrants are safe while making their sea journey. The recommendations include rescue by enhancing searches in the central, and removing restrictions on NGOs’ access to the territory for asylum seekers by ending the practice of push back. Finally, the UNCHR also recommends the importance of protecting children and creating safe and legal pathways, especially for people who executed from Libya, by promoting sponsorship programs and scholarship programs.

Muzna Erum