Root of the Mediterranean migration crisis
THE wave of mass migration into Libya en route to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea clearly shows a world in turmoil. There is no peace or security in many places. The traditional turbulent Middle East is in the throes of multiple man-made conflicts. Thousands of people have been pushed to the edge, which makes them opt to flee their homeland. There seems to be no end in sight to the conflicts pitching ethnic, political and religious divides. Peace has eluded mankind from time immemorial.
The conflicts ravaging many countries around the world is an indictment on modern civilisation. With no peace anywhere and conflicts everywhere, humanity seems to be edging closer to self-annihilation unless the trend is halted. The quantum of knowledge in the 21st Century has not helped mankind to overcome hatred and other primordial instincts. There is no elixir for hatred in a troubled world. While the advancement in knowledge has made life easier in many ramifications, the same knowledge has been used wrongly to produce weapons of mass destruction.
The knowledge has not been used to overcome global poverty, hunger and deprivation. The knowledge is not able to resolve increasing criminality or man’s inhumanity to man across many spheres. Humanity is stuck in a most primitive quest to destroy one another, using lethal weapons modern age has produced. This is ironic, indeed strange. Civilisation has gone awry.
The over 250,000 wars fought in human history including the two world wars and the estimated one billion people killed have not made mankind to crave for peace. Instead, the tempo of wars is being raised as new destructive weapons are produced. The creation of the United Nations (UN) and the Security Council have done little to stop global conflicts.
What started as routine migration by scores of mainly economic migrants fleeing hardship in Africa has turned into a global nightmare. The European Union (EU) is confounded. Italy is particularly bemused. Overtime, the numbers of countries whose citizens are fleeing conflicts and economic hardship have multiplied. They include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India and Ivory Coast.
The others are Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. In all these countries, the citizens are traumatized by harsh economic and or political upheavals that compel them to seek refuge elsewhere. Misery, dejection and gloom pervade the spheres in which many citizens found themselves.
The conflicts in the Middle East that erupted following the Arab Spring of 2011 aggravated the migration problem. Prior to that was America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, which resulted in wider discontent within the region. This gave rise to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. ISIS has steadily launched a ferocious military campaign across Iraq and Syria leading to the occupation of large swaths of territory. Ethnic populations in the opposing sides are being slaughtered in cold blood. Whatever threw up the Islamic State (ISIS) in a volatile region is at the root of the migration crisis. ISIS, which reportedly now has affiliates in many other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia, has confounded America and her allies. The battle against ISIS is raging and thousands of people are fleeing the Middle East.
Families have been dislodged. Millions of men, women, children and elderly have been dislocated from their homes. Some are scattered while others are clamped into improvised refugee camps in a hostile desert environment. There is desperation among the refugees as aid agencies struggle to maintain some level of sanity and feed hungry mouths. Various humanitarian organisations are contending with the situation.
Like in all wars, human life has been reduced to nothing. Daily blood bath perpetrated by suicide bombers adds to the horror. The trauma of the war is unimaginable. For those who can brave it, a move out of the war zone is a definite attraction, which no one in that condition would resist. That makes the conflict a push factor. People are running for their dear lives.
Consequently, thousands of war weary populations from the crisis-ridden Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other North African countries, keep trooping to Libya via arduous desert trip, in an escape bid to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands of others are making their escape through land routes in Turkey. This has compounded the hitherto manageable migration that usually originated from Africa.
The European Union (EU) countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are at the receiving end. Italy, in particular, is bearing the brunt of the crisis. These countries must brace up to bear this burden so long as the conflicts at the source regions prolong. The world is one global village. What affects one country affects the others. There is no running away from this fact.
The tempo of the migration worsened in the last three years, as the wars in the Middle East escalated. The civil war in Libya provided a fertile ground for smugglers to transport migrants through the country, first through the desert and then across the sea. The years 2013 and 2014 particularly saw thousands of migrants being ferried in makeshift boats across the Mediterranean. The numbers increased in the first quarter of 2015.
In the course of crossing the tempestuous Mediterranean in rickety vessels, thousands perish. Some 3,419 migrants have reportedly died in the tortuous trips. Between January and May 2015 alone, more than 180,000 have drowned. Surprisingly, the deaths have not been able to stop new migrants. It is matter of life and death.
It is needless for the international community to be lamenting the steady flow of migrants. The flow won’t just stop. The migrations are merely the effect. The cause must be addressed for peace and normalcy to return. The only solution is to stop the conflicts and give reprieve to economic migrants. Europe is perceived as the Golden Fleece and that serves as a pull factor. Hence, the movement is largely directed towards Europe. Contending with the desperate migrants alone while leaving the conflicts in their home countries won’t solve the problem. The UN should rise to the challenge. The body should call a spade a spade and address conflicts that threaten modern civilisation.