Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Migration across the Mediterranean

Migration from Africa to Europe across the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean was in the headlines in April as hundreds of migrants died. As chapter 1 notes, the Mediterranean Sea is the most dangerous stretch of water in the world for migrants. Despite this, the number of migrants trying to cross it seems to be rising. Many of these migrants are Syrian refugees; others are from sub-Saharan Africa. Many of them are trafficked through Libya before they try to cross the Mediterranean into Italy. The Economist had a great article about this crossing:.

Europe is struggling with how to address the continued influx of migrants from Africa. As chapter 3 discusses, EU countries have agreed that migrants are supposed to seek asylum in the first country where they arrive. The migrants land in southern Europe, where the economies are much weaker than in northern Europe. These migration flows impose a greater burden on the countries that are in a worse position to bear those costs. The EU is debating whether to try to distribute migrants--or the costs--more equitably across countries.

Here's an interactive map of migration flows across the Mediterranean (hat tip to Graziella Bertocchi).

When I was in Senegal in April 2015 for a conference on migration organized by the Institute for the Study of Labor, we met two young men who migrated illegally to Spain. Both went on boats from Mauritania to Spain. Their crossings took 6 days, with lots of people crammed onto a small boat. One of them had a brother who died making a similar crossing. They went because of limited economic opportunities at home. They worked in the informal sector in Europe, selling goods on the street and the like.

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