Another migration story has astonished the European leaders: more than 260 migrants were saved by the Tunisian authorities in the last week of June. This story witnesses that migration crisis is still going on. What are the major problems ahead of the EU officials in this regard? How will the EU cope with the arising issues?
Tunisian authorities rescued 267 migrants in Mediterranean Sea on Thursday (June 25), according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The migrants had tried to reach Europe from neighbouring Libya. The Tunisian coastguard said the migrants were stranded at sea for a while after their boat had broken down. The migrants were brought to shore at the Ben Guerdane port in southern Tunisia, near the border with Libya, where they were handed over to the IOM and the Red Crescent. It was not immediately clear if all migrants aboard the boat were rescued or if any passengers had drowned. According to Munji Salim, head of the Red Crescent in Tunisia’s southern province of Medenine, the operation involved the highest number of migrants rescued off the Tunisian coast in a single operation. He added that the migrants, of whom 264 were Bangladeshi and three from Egypt, were thought to have set off from the Libyan city of Zuwara.
Another story comes from Yemen. United Nations and Yemeni officials say about 200 migrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, are missing after a shipwreck off the coast of Yemen on Sunday (June 13). The capsizing of that boat with migrants is the latest accident at sea with African migrants going in search of a better life to oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf.
A UN migration official reported there were about 200, mostly Africans, and a few Yemenis in the boat, and it was not known if any had survived. Fleeing poverty and insecurity, and in search of work, thousands of people try to travel from Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia to Yemen every year, and further to rich countries in the Gulf. The Coronavirus pandemic and border closures have slowed but not stopped the flow of migrants. The International Organization for Migration stated that about 138,000 people made such a trip in 2019, and only 37,500 did so in 2020. In April this year, more than 40 migrants drowned when a boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti.
Moreover, on June 11, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted more than 200 migrants heading to Europe, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated. She announced on Twitter that she expects the migrants to be transferred to closed centers, where they are most often abused. Libyan authorities have detained about 11,000 migrants in detention centers since the beginning of the year, where “conditions are terrible”, she added.
Most migrants in Libya are trying to make a dangerous trip to Europe in poorly equipped and unsafe rubber boats. Earlier this year, the IOM estimated that the number of victims among migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean exceeded the “black line” of 20,000 since 2014. Smugglers often transport desperate families of migrants with poorly equipped rubber boats, which are extremely unsafe to sail the Mediterranean. In the last few years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived in Europe on their own or after rescue at sea, while thousands have drowned. Others were intercepted and returned to Libya, left at the mercy of armed groups or imprisoned in unhygienic and overcrowded detention centers, where there is no adequate water and food.
All of these recent events just prove what many European officials claimed a year ago: the migration is a never-ending problem for the Old Continent. It remains to be seen how the EU cope will with these challenging situation when they are burdened with another major internal issues that shake the existence of the European Union.