Migrants still drowning, just in different waters

inflatable boats used for  crossing

Remainder of inflatable boats used for crossing to Greece. Photo by Ann Wuyts, September  3, 2015. Published under Creative Commons license

In April, cheery headlines assured us that stringent new EU limits on immigration, spelled out in a deal with Turkey, were already saving lives. That’s a lie. Apart from the other legal and logistical problems of this deal, tens of thousands of migrants still attempt ocean crossings and thousands are drowning in the attempt.

Back in April, the Turkish Daily Sabah reported claims by an EU official that the deal barring refugees from entry to Greece was saving lives:

“Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels Thursday, Maarten Verwey, EU’s coordinator over the refugee crisis in Greece, said: ‘No one has lost their life in the Aegean since March 21.’

“This was in sharp contrast to the days before the deal was put into force.”

The claims of success for the agreement were amplified by the Turkey and European Relations blog, The Independent, and the BBC.

Instead of drowning in the Aegean as they attempt to reach Greece, more desperate refugees now drown in the Mediterranean, as they attempt to reach Italy. The numbers are lower than last year, but rising:

“From January 1 to May 25 this year, at least 1,475 died making the journey to Europe by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This is an improvement over the last year when 1,828 refugees and migrants died in the first five months of 2015.

“None of the deaths this month occurred on the eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece, where arrivals have slowed to a trickle since the EU struck a deal with Ankara to curb the flow.”

The United Nations reported more than 700 people feared drowned since May 25:

:The UN refugee agency said more than 700 refugees may have drowned in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy in the last few days.

“Speaking to Al Jazeera from Geneva, William Spindler, a UNHCR spokesman for Europe, said there had been a spate of incidents in the Mediterranean last week.”

BBC reports that the number of migrants rescued by a flotilla of Italian, German and Irish ships in the Mediterranean is 13,000 weekly, as spring migration increases.

As the Migration Policy Institute observed:

“In focusing upon the most visible perceived threat, the problem has once again been squeezed elsewhere rather than resolved.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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