The drowning of thousands of people in the Mediterranean shames both the countries they left and those they were heading for. Whether these individuals were fleeing political oppression or poverty, the governments and international organisations were nowhere to be seen. About 40,000 people fleeing Africa, Asia and the Middle East have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year. At least 2,000 have died at sea, but many more die en route from their countries to the Mediterranean ports, mainly in Libya.
The European Union’s new plans for a war on traffickers will do
little to staunch the flow of migrants, let alone tackle the root
causes of the exodus. The mélange of militias and politicians
controlling Libya’s western ports have already threatened to block any
European action. For the sake of the migrants and Libyans themselves,
international efforts to end the civil war must go into higher gear.
As for the economic causes of the migration, the IMF’s Spring
Meeting heard that of the 450 million people working in Africa, fewer
than 40 million are on payrolls and paying tax. By 2030, according to
projections, the number of people reaching working age in Africa alone
will exceed those in the rest of the world. Without far more focused
and determined strategies to create sustainable jobs across the
continent, there may be ebb and flow, but the tide of migration will
not stop rising – Fortress Europe or not.