Briefly: More than 73 people are believed to have died at sea during an attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. Only seven managed to return to Libya, from where their small boat departed sometime earlier this week.
Some context: Libya is a common departure point for folks trying to reach Europe: it’s close, and local law enforcement is near-zero. Unfortunately, this latter point means human rights abuses are common, perpetrated by both traffickers and the Libyan authorities.
Zooming out a little, migration is one of the toughest challenges for governments today. On the one hand, the UN was founded on the principle that countries govern themselves. And for many countries, that means controlling their own borders.
On the other hand, there are now 90 million people forcibly displaced around the world, and the Refugee Convention protects the right to seek asylum.
Intrigue’s take: The geopolitical angle to all this is a doozy. Countries that find themselves along the migration path (like Turkey, Morocco and Belarus) have been accused of ‘turning the migration tap’ on/off to maximise their leverage over places like the EU.
Others that seek to manage the issue through bilateral deals (like the UK-Rwanda arrangement) can find themselves under the blowtorch of global scrutiny. And meanwhile, governments seen as sitting on their hands put themselves at the mercy of (angry) voters. We wish we could find an optimistic angle here, but there ain’t one.
Also worth noting:
- During last week’s (9 February) Special European Council on migration, EU essentially pledged to double down on its current policy.
- The central Mediterranean is currently the deadliest migratory route in the world, according to the International Organisation for Migration.