The beautiful Mediterranean turned out to be the deadliest trap for migrants who hopelessly and desperately tried to cross it in the two past years. Migrants who engaged on the dangerous trip and entered the game with death mostly come from conflict and poverty-stricken regions like Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The migrants had nothing to lose so they embarked on a trip to the European mainland across the Mediterranean.
Statistics showed that only in 2014 3,200 passengers or migrants died in the cruel battle with the sea and border controls (those who arrived to mainland). The European Union and the entire world seem to take a very odd standpoint on this matter. They rather try to prevent the inflow of migrants who only seek peace and a normal life justifying it or identifying it with smuggling. Fearing smugglers, crime and terrorism, the European countries try to stay reserved on the issue even though the pressure in countries of reception like Turkey and Greece is about to reach explosion. These countries, including Italy, have exhausted all their resources in order to cope with the influx of people.
The EU should make it its key task to secure migration routes in these extraordinary conditions that the world faces by organizing rescue searches and establishing safe legal migration routes. A liberated visa regime to refugees and asylum seekers should also be clearly defined. Even due to lack of genuine interest, the EU undertook several steps to handle the crisis. Some would agree that Europe hopped on board a little bit too late and that it should have started much earlier. The EU seemed reluctant during 2015, and only in 2016 did it start to handle it more efficiently.
Addressing the Crisis 2015/2016 and Now
The biggest problem of the European Union was that along the refugees other migrants joined the mass migration, from Nigeria for example, who were not escaping war but seeking job opportunities in the well-established EU and its organized labor market. Smugglers and refugees, and job opportunists mingled and it was hard to tell one from the others.
Still, the influx of people was barely manageable, especially for Italy which already has announced that it would not survive another year of migrant inflow as it did in 2016. Turkey is also fighting its own diplomatic battles with the EU, which promised to provide support to Turkey in the financial sense and by liberating visas for the refugees so that they can enter the EU from Turkey. Nevertheless, until now, it more seems as empty promises since the EU has not yet kept its word leaving Turkey to deal with the migrants for now.
The EU has indeed established a fund for agencies that deal with the migration crisis and border crossing procedures, but yet it somehow does not seem enough.
The EU’s 2015/2016 Main Goals
The main focus on the crisis during the last two years was on how the EU was going to tackle down issues at border crossing points and the fate of millions of migrants once they reached mainland. The main objectives that were to be met concerned a series of solutions for all the steps that migrants had to take. The EU talked a lot about strategic approach, and it started very late with the implementation. The EU should have established safer routes and legal channels for the refugees on time (back in 2014) to offer the refugees an alternative to the dangerous channels they were taking in 2014 and 2015. Their policy should have been more consistent and integrated as to include proportional relocation of the refugees and an established system for family reunification.
It also should have done more when it comes to helping overwhelmed countries with ensuring proper conditions for migrants and adequate reception centers, especially because the countries through which the migrants entered are somewhat economically weaker with a weaker asylum system. The EU Dublin Regulation that was adopted in 2013 was not efficient enough since it put a burden on reception countries. The core idea of the regulation was that reception countries should take care of migrants until they can move forward. Still, many migrant were stuck in these countries since they were not let into other countries due to harsh border controls.
One of the biggest disasters that saw humanity stoop very low was the crossing of the Hungarian border where migrants faced harsh and violent treatment and were shown that they were not welcome. In 2016, the EU reacted more actively to the inhumane conditions in the Mediterranean and made significant efforts to stop the uncontrolled migration route that accounted for thousands of deaths.
One of the steps was to develop a relocation schemes that would be properly defined to help overburdened Greece, Turkey, and Italy to go back to normal. In Greece, the migration crisis evolved into a humanitarian crisis. It was also crucial to make a list of unsafe countries that would clearly define which migrants to accept and which to reject. This would have significantly improved the asylum systems and produced more efficient results.
The crisis should have been properly addressed form day 1 not waiting for things to run out of control as they did.