A migrant’s vessel destined for Europe carrying hundreds of refugees capsized in the Mediterranean off Libya’s coast killing 950 of them including 200 women and several dozens of children.
The incident was the deadliest migrant disaster ever in the Mediterranean and the latest addition to Europe’s migration crisis intensifying the pressure on the European Union to take steps for decisive action. According to the Italian authorities, 28 people have been rescued so far and 24 bodies recovered. Most of the refugees were from Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Zambia, Ghana and war-stricken West Asian countries such as Syria and Iraq along with a few job seekers from Bangladesh. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for an emergency meeting of European Union leaders this week in Luxembourg to address the immigration crisis. Sweden's Minister for Justice and migration Morgan Johansson said that the EU countries should take the responsibility of the refugee crisis. The shocking incident has brought a new focus on human trafficking from North Africa to Europe where the people flee war, poverty, famine, drought and political instability. Libya being closer to Europe, acts as a growing hub for these desperate refugees who seek a better life and lack of proper alert systems along the maritime boundaries makes the crossing easier. In recent years, the European Union has failed to tackle the problem of illegal migration with no sufficient planes, boats and rapid action teams.
Human trafficking continues uninterrupted through the Mediterranean centered on Libya. The civil war set off by the toppling of the authoritarian Moammar Gadhafi, the rival militias, tribal factions and political forces have destabilized the country due to which it has become a frequent point of departure for the asylum seekers. The ruthless smugglers take advantage of the situation squeezing the refugees into rickety vessels ferrying them across the Mediterranean. Many never make it. Around 1500 people were drowned in 2011, 500 in 2012 and 600 in 2013 while 3, 500 people lost themselves to the sea in 2014. Around 1, 500 people are estimated to be dead in the incident. The safe arrival of 1, 70, 000 refugees on the shores of Italy last year prompts the asylum seekers to experiment with their lives. According to the UN reports, 2, 19, 000 people of Afro-Asian origin had landed up as refugees in Europe in the last few years.
The humanitarian crisis poses a huge threat to the European nations. The extreme right-wing political parties have demanded a strict action against the increasing illegal migration. So far this year, 35,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe and more than 900 are known to have died trying. Libya, Iraq and Syria that were comparatively better than the African countries stricken with civil wars, poverty, unemployment, drought, scarcity and political instability have been added to the list. While Turkey bears the brunt of refugee crisis the most, the remaining of the refugees relocates to the European countries. The UN should ensure cessation of war and bloodshed normalizing the situation in the region and restoring peace. The US and the EU nations should strive hard to save the third world countries by sidelining expansive imperial interests and arms sale. Deciding not to sell arms to the battling parties alone would pave way to solutions. Exploitation, economic centralization, unjust distribution and authoritarian governments are the curses of the African countries and not the scarcity of resources or the lack of shelter.