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Migrant ship graveyard, Pozzallo, Italy © JannHuizenga

Europe’s Refugee Crisis Has Not Gone Away

The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean sees record-high death tolls.

Though it might have temporarily disappeared from news headlines, the European migrant and refugee crisis has not gone away. On the contrary, the situation is drastic and urgent. Most recent estimates by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) place the number of sea arrivals near 100,000 in 2017, mainly of West African origin, trying to cross over to Europe. The route from Libya alone saw some 84,000 arrive in Italy. The situation in the Mediterranean Sea suggests these figures may need to be revised upward by thousands and thousands. Just in the last week of June, some 10,000 were rescued off Libya.

The scale of this humanitarian crisis is beyond imagination. Although according to the International Organization for Migration the number of people trying to cross to Europe is lower than 2016, the death toll has increased, currently over the 2,000 mark from the start of the year.

Many different actors are involved. Apart from migrant boats off the Libyan coast and the charities trying to save them, there are also those related to the smuggling business, trying to make profit off this emergency.

The report shot by Channel 4 News focuses on the work of the German charity rescue boat Sea-Watch II, which operates off the coast of Libya. With a maximum capacity of 150, Sea-Watch II is regularly operating at breaking point, carrying over 400 rescued migrants.

The situation becomes especially critical at night. As boats carrying migrants leak and sink, with many jumping into the water out of desperation, it becomes ever harder to prevent them drowning in the dark, creating a nightmare scenario for the rescue teams.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: JannHuizenga