Irregular migrants continue to risk their lives as EU countries harden the block’s borders

Recent figures show that travelling from Africa to Europe as an irregular migrant continues to be extremely dangerous. Indeed, over 900 people have reportedly died or gone missing so far in 2019 while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. 

In a single incident, which was dubbed the “worst Mediterranean tragedy” of the year by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, over 150 migrants drowned or went missing after leaving Libya to travel by sea to Italy.

But migrants are not only dying at sea. Many lose their lives due to the serious physical risks they face in transit countries.

In Libya, migrants have reportedly been the victims of serious human rights violations, such as torture and enslavement. 

In a bid to reduce the number of irregular arrivals, European countries, such as Italy, have lent support to Libya to manage their maritime borders. 

Strengthened by this support, the Libyan coastguard patrols the country’s ports and territorial waters. When they encounter irregular migrants travelling to Europe, they usually arrest them and take them to detention centres.

UNHCR estimates that around 6,000 migrants are currently being held in detention centres in Libya. The conditions in many of these centres are extremely poor. There have also been reports of detained migrants being caught in the crossfire of the ongoing Libyan conflict.

Libya is not the only North African country receiving support from Europe to increase its border management capabilities. In July 2019, Spain approved a proposal to send EUR 30 million to help Morocco fight irregular migration. This proposal followed the European Union’s pledge of EUR 140 million for the same purpose. 

The European Union is also calling for more African-based processing and resettlement centres. With the block’s support, hundreds of stranded African migrants will soon be relocated from Libya to Rwanda.

TMP 05/09/2019

Photo credit: moroccoworldnews

Photo caption: A Moroccan police officer stopping African migrants from flying over the bars into Spain.