Mediterranean Migration Crisis Management And Italian Responses
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Author : Jerry Kakala
Since many decades, people brave the Mediterranean Sea from the Libyan coast to Europe. In this journey, the main gate to Europe is Italy which is geographically exposed to receive migrants from North Africa. From illegal migration crisis to humanitarian crisis, the 2015 migration crisis called for different policies as crisis management strategies. Italian government contained the crisis as it could through the Mare Nostrum operation and humanitarian visas as main policies during the crisis. Yet, migration is far from being a souvenir to human beings. This paper analyzes whether all these responses could address the Mediterranean migration crisis in a long-term view and suggest to rethink migration causes and responses in order to prevent another crisis.
Flow of people from one area to another increased in the last decades. This action is called migration and it is inherent to all human beings who always search for a safe place to live in regard to all aspects of social life. But it is also a fact of globalization which has been defined as “the widening, deepening and speeding up of the worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life” (David Held cited by Art and Jervis 2015).
The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first century are, in terms of migration, characterized by huge movement of people from south countries to north countries. Yet, this reality is neither new nor last in humankind evolution. But it has been emphasized and considered as a singular crisis since 1990s and named “global migration crisis” (Weiner, 1995) and became a permanent threat for some nations. The European parliament qualified the crisis as a “European migrant crisis” in 2017 because of the massive arrival of people between 2011 and 2015 through waters. This crisis includes economic migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The term migrant is used like an umbrella term which covers the above three different categories of people.
Causes of migration are diverse as well as reactions of European countries which rise the debate about the accurate policies which should be undertaken as a response to the crisis.
In his paper, Stephen Castles (2004) pointed out three major sources of factors which shape migrations: social dynamics of the migratory process; globalization, transnationalism and North-South relationships; political system.
Regardless of factors, migration was seen as profitable to some European countries especially when it was high educated migrants or unskilled workers who could offer their services for unwilling jobs by host countries’ citizens. It was cheaper and still be the case in most developed countries to employ illegal workers (Kramer, 1999). Yet, migration trend receives a different response nowadays from host countries’ citizens and politicians due to unemployment rate, racism, nationalism or threat to security which migrants can represent. This situation obliges European Union countries to undertake collective and individual actions in order to address the crisis.
The United Nations Refugees Agency states that migration involves countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination. Response strategies must take all three into account (https://emergency.unhcr.org). Therefore, it appeals to foreign policy and diplomacy in negotiations for common actions against migration causes and its pervert consequences.
Early in the 1990s, European states have seen migration control as central to national sovereignty and identity. However, governments and European commission have increasingly realized that restriction alone would not work. In 1992 Edinburgh European council called for measures to address the causes of migration, including preservation of peace and ending armed conflicts, respects for human rights, the creation of democratic societies and adequate social conditions, and liberal trade policies to improve economic conditions (Stephen Catles, 2004).
Even though European Union is defined as one territory in terms of free movement of people, all European countries did not face the migrant crisis at the same level, some were more exposed to sudden migrants arriving on their territory with all risks it implies while others thanks to their geographical position were less exposed to migrants entry into their territory.
Italy is one of those countries which are exposed to unpredictable migrants’ arrival because of its borders with the Mediterranean. Therefore, Italy has known an unprecedented illegal migration flows between 2011 and 2015 through the island Lampedusa. Some gave this migratory escalation as the Lampedusa migrant crisis (McMahon, 2012).
Italian government was obligated to set up some policies to address the crisis because of humanitarian, security and social concern for its territory. From a humanitarian perspective, the fact that migrants were exposed to perish in the Mediterranean Sea if they were not rescued, and from security and social concern, Italian government was not able to handle the crisis by its own means because of lack of social condition to host all migrants while the target of their movement was the whole of Europe.
In this paper, we look at two major actions undertaken by Italian government in order to deal with 2011-2015 Mediterranean migrant crisis. First the mare nostrum action and second the humanitarian visa given to some migrants. These policies had their merits but they seem not to be sustainable for the future.
Stephen Castles (2004) opines that migration policies may fail if they are based on a short-term view of migration. In the light of this assumption, the paper intends to analyze if the Italian responses to migration crisis had an impact and if they are sustainable to prevent migration flows in the era of increasing globalization.
Because of diversity of migrants who arrived on the Lampedusa Island, the paper takes into account only those who arrive from North Africa, especially from Libya.
Root Causes of Mediterranean Migrant Crisis escalation
Migration is a multi-factor reality driven by economic, social, and political determinants at any time of human existence. The Mediterranean migrant crisis is also a consequence of these factors. Starting in 2011, the crisis seemed to be a collateral effect of the so-called Arab Spring which started in December 2010 in some North African countries and middle-east nations.
This was a contagious protest movement against regimes which were characterized by dictatorship practices such as oppression of citizens in countries with a low living standard. Starting with Tunisia, the syndrome affected North African countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Libya. Even though it is presented as a local citizens’ spontaneous action, it must be recognized that, in some countries, the escalation of violation was fed by western intervention in local affairs. This is the case of Libya where the leader, Gaddafi was accused of building nuclear weapons and of being a sponsor of terrorist. Which was revealed to be totally wrong after his assassination. Analyzing Gaddafi murder, Mbeko (2016) states that the United Nations gave a fake reason of protecting civil population in Libya by allowing an intervention of National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces to intervene in Libya while the main reason of NATO forces intervention was to deal with Gaddafi who was unruly from western view, especially United States of America. He thus opined by quoting Franklin Roosevelt: "In politics, nothing happens by chance. Whenever an event occurs, we can be sure that it was planned to unfold this way”. It appears like The US and its partners, mostly France planed the death of Gadhafi by taking benefit from the Arab spring which Mbeko (2016) qualified as the “American Spring in the Arab world.”
Taking into account the above, migration is fundamentally a political crisis. Jeandes Boz and Pallister-Wilkins (2016) argue that migration crisis is often linked to failure of politics in their policies which leads to anti-political feeling from citizens.
For Basaran (2015), the Mediterranean migrant crisis is considered as a crisis because European’s boundaries have become sites of suffering and death with production of a humanitarian response as a result. But this is not relevant if we take into account the Libyan case as explained above. The Mediterranean migrant crisis in the context of North Africa is the consequence of political instability in Libya after Gaddafi execution because flows through the Mediterranean aiming to reach Europe increased after that event.
At the time of his reign, Gaddafi’s Libya was a solid shield against migration waves because many sub-Saharan migrants chose to settle in Libya instead of trying to cross the Mediterranean as a result of a high living standard in the country.
We may thus opine that Mediterranean migrant’s crisis is caused by the collapse of political stability in some North African Countries, especially Libya which was known as the largest migrant-receiver in the region and as a barrier to tentative of braving Mediterranean waters for European vision. Moreover, before the fall of Gaddafi, Libya was the only country in the Arab zone with a small percentage of emigration representing 1% of its population (Fargues and Fandrich, 2012) but this escalated after the Arab spring with Mediterranean expedition of thousands of Libyan and other nationalities for the European dream.
Fouteau (2012) reports that the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, talked of 200,000-300,000 arrivals, creating a future that was impossible to imagine. He further warned that the fall of Gaddafi’s regime could open migratory doors and lead to an exodus of biblical proportions. Likewise, Muammar Gaddafi warned that if he falls: there would be a huge immigration, thousands of people from Libya would invade Europe and there would be no one to stop them anymore, reported Fargues and Fandrich (2012) in their paper.
The above shows how Gaddafi weaponized migration as a threat, intimidation or a form of pressure that he may create cross-border population movements unless his opponents concede to his demands (Greenhill, 2016). Unfortunately for him, his detractors did not mind his strategy.
At the end of all, Frattini’s fears and Gaddafi’s threats were finally confirmed by the increase of candidates for the Mediterranean travel from Libya with two big consequences, humanitarian crisis due to death of people in the Mediterranean and flux of migrants to Europe especially Italy.
This situation called for a state-level responses and community level as well. Italian responses are analyzed in the next section.
Italian Responses to Mediterranean migrant crisis escalation
While Libya was burning after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Italy also was experiencing the threat of borders’ invasion by migrants who took the risk of the Mediterranean. Without waiting for a creation of an official government, in June 2011, Italy signed a cooperation Accord with rebels (National Transitional Council), agreeing to share information on illegal migration and cooperation on repatriating migrants. Furthermore, rebels agreed to respect several agreements signed between Italy and Gaddafi, including deportation of irregular migrants without proper status. Later the two parties came with another agreement signed in April 2012 named “Memorandum of Understanding” on security which had the motive of addressing illegal migration from Libya to Italy through the Mediterranean. This agreement proposed to provide Libyan police forces with necessary training and technical tools for controlling borders, set a mechanism for sharing information on irregular migrants and smuggling networks, and construction of detention center in Kufra in case an illegal migrant is caught (Fargues and Fandrich, 2012).
If these strategies helped somehow to address migrants’ incentive to brave the troubled waters of the Mediterranean, the final result reveals that migration was not slowed in a significant manner. This is comprehensible because, agreement was signed with a rebel government in a context where Libya was counting diverse negative forces which were involved in human traffic as a source of remuneration. Also, because the Tripoli government was not able to control the whole territory, it was relying on other rebels to control borders. Unfortunately, those rebels were working sometimes as borders’ controllers and other times as professional smugglers.This was the first action taken by the Italian government. But as Libya became a battlefield, there was no hope to rely on rebels.
Migration trend from Libyan border stepped up instead of declining and caused a huge humanitarian crisis which called for a common response from European Union countries but these countries started to play a ping-pong game rejecting responsibility. Because Italy was the first destination, not always for the purpose of living there but a transit place to other European Countries’ destination, the Italian government was obligated to undertake another action at the end to rescue migrants who were perishing in the sea.
At the beginning, the Mediterranean migrants’ crisis appeared only as a consequence of weak protection of Libyan borders caused by Gaddafi’s fall, permeability of European Union space and flourishing of smugglers’ business. But this perception changed in the international view when the Mediterranean became a humanitarian battlefield (Masuro, 2017). Indeed, the crisis acquired serious proportions with a high number of shipwrecks and deaths.
The tragedy happened on 3rd October 2013 where two boats shipwrecked near the Lampedusa coast occasioning death of 366 migrants. While the international community was trying to understand what happened and Italy going through difficulties, suddenly on October 11 of the same year, another boat shipwrecked between Maltese and Lampedusa with the number of victims in the sea going over 600 persons.
Due to its geographical position, which made her the forefront on the Mediterranean migration crisis, Italy decided to react and experience new strategies to tackle the emergency (Panebianco, 2016). Italy declared a national day of mourning while the Prime Minister of Maltese declared an emerging cemetery within the Mediterranean Sea. Such reality called for action by looking at what was happing not only with the lens of illegal migration fed by smugglers, but also with a humanitarian lens. Illegal migrants were somehow qualified as refugees.
The Italian Government led by Enrico Letta then decided to launch the Mare Nostrum operation (MNO) in order to prevent similar tragedy and rescue migrants (Panebianco, 2016).
This policy tried to kill two birds with one stone. Frist, to rescue migrants travelling on vessels in distress and second to deal with smugglers who were involved in a new form of human traffic by migration. Masuro (2017) qualified the Mare Nostrum as a military-humanitarian operation in the Mediterranean Sea because of its double objectives, controlling borders by hunting down smugglers and saving lives.
Because of Mediterranean dimensions, this operation involved several units of the Italian Navy (Panebianco, 2016):
- One amphibious vessel with specific command and control features, medical and shelter facilities for the would-be migrants;
- One/two frigates and two second line high seas units-either patrollers or corvettes-with wide range and medical care capabilities;
- Helicopters on board;
- A SAN MARCO Marine Brigade team in charge of vessels inspections and safety of migrants on board;
- A coastal radar network and Italian Automatic Identification System shore station;
- One Atlantic 1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) based in Sigonella for maritime patrol;
- One Air Force Predator A+ based in Sigonella for maritime patrol;
- One MM p180 aircraft equipped with forward looking infrared (FLIR);
- Two camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial vehicles onboard ITS San Giusto;
- One Forward Logistic Site (FLS) in the Lampedusa for logistics support to units deployed to Mare Nostrum operation;
All in all, this operation costed a relatively high budget of 9 million euros per month, mainly using the equipment, resources and know-how of the Italian Navy and Air Force (900 people) and covering a large area of intervention (100 nautical miles from Lampedusa), thus allowing interventions off the Libyan and Tunisian coasts, where most shipwrecks and human tragedies occurred (Geisser, 2015).
Migrants and refugees have, in the past, criticized Mare Nostrum because of its security, but they recognized its overall positive record in terms of assistance to the castaways and preservation of human lives.
The following table shows which impact did Mare Nostrum have:
Source: Panebianco (2016) from the Italian Ministry of Defense
According to Geisser (2015), in total Mare Nostrum has rescued more than 150,000 migrants, about 400 per day, and arrested more than 350 smugglers and traffickers. But it is also true that this operation was based almost entirely on the goodwill of Italy, which, because of lack of solidarity of other European countries, had to face many attacks from EU leaders. Due to lack of sufficient support from European states, Italy had to end Mare Nostrum after one year of operation, in October 2014.
Three factors led to the end of Mare Nostrum operation; the high cost of that policy, criticism from national citizens and politicians, and indifference associated to critics of other European Union countries.
The one of reasons was shared both by opponents to the Italian government at that time and the Italian government itself but with different motivations. For the local politicians it was a waste of money because such policy instead of stopping smugglers was a source of hope and motivation to smugglers’ clients (victims) to risk their life because in whatever case, Italian government was ready to rescue migrants through Mare Nostrum operation conducted by experimented members the Italian Navy.
To their side, instead of sharing the heavy weight of Mediterranean migrant crisis which turned into humanitarian crisis, European Union Countries considered Italy as a country which was feeding the increase of migrant’s flows by its policy. That was not a surprise because most of EU’s flourished economies condemned Italy a few days after the first boat shipwrecked on October 3rd 2013. This is shown by their reactions in media. One leader of the British Conservative Party argued that, “Italians are very weak in their way of controlling their borders, which encourages more and more migrants to risk themselves in such a trip” (Le Figaro, 2013).
Looking at the impact of Mare Nostrum operation on one side and critics on the other side, we face two different evaluations of Italian government policy. One is that the MNO was globally positive with the assessment that the operation would have saved many lives. This view was not unanimous because others accused Italy of having aggravated the conditions of the crossing of the Mediterranean for illegal immigrants first, and secondly, European Union’s countries considered MNO as “pull factor” because by rescuing migrants, it gives others the incentive to emigrate with the conviction that the operation will be the savior in case of danger.
Because of lack of support from its pairs in the European Union, the Italian government gave up the Mare Nostrum operation. In response to that, the European Union set a policy aimed at rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean called “TRITON”. But this European Union policy was highly criticized because of its inefficiency. Critics came mainly from International Non-Government Organization for human rights.
In critique to the EU policy, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed "concern over the announcement of the end of the Italian operation Mare Nostrum. Without the establishment of any other similar operation at European level for search and rescue. The risk will undoubtedly increase for people trying to cross to Europe in search of safety. It could also lead to more deaths in sea among refugees and migrants." Cited by Geisser (2015).
The Triton operation opposed to the Mare Nostrum did not have the same spirit and its concern was far from rescuing migrant (refugees) in danger. Because of its inadequacy with the crisis, an Amnesty International official while referring to the European Union’s response to the crisis stated that: "Whatever its dress, Triton is not a search and rescue operation but surveillance” (Berger, 2014).
Geisser (2015) made an accurate analysis of the Triton operation when he argued that if European states have agreed to share the responsibility for operations in the Mediterranean, it is with human, material and financial resources considerably reduced compared to Mare Nostrum: fewer staff, fewer boats and planes, a relatively derisory budget ( 2.9 Euros million per month) and especially an intervention area that is limited to European territorial waters (less than 30 nautical miles from the Italian and Maltese coasts), which excludes the Libyan and Tunisian coasts, yet dangerous maritime regions where most shipwrecks of migrant boats occur.
The Mare Nostrum was the Italian new responsive style to Mediterranean migrants’ crisis over diplomatic responses through agreement with third countries, especially Libya. This policy showed its capacity in saving lives by changing the perception of the crisis from an exclusively illegal migration aspect to a humanitarian crisis. Therefore, we question if Mare Nostrum was a response to migrant crisis or to humanitarian crisis. Mare Nostrum played both roles but with an emphasis on the humanitarian aspect which was successful but it did not stem migration crisis in itself. This is evident because when migrants were saved, it was not obvious that they will be given asylum or permanent visa, rather the purpose of rescuing migrants (refugees) was to send them back to Libya and only in exceptional case, where some were eligible to asylum.
In such situation, we may argue that the policy tried to heal symptoms instead of diseases and causes of disease. That’s why the crisis worsened in 2015 with thousands of deaths. But the Italian Government took this situation as an opportunity to push the European Union in the light of redefining EU’s strategy and policies about migration.
In order to influence EU’s policies on the issue, the Italian Government tried to fixe EU’s agenda during the Italian presidency of the European Union (Sannino, 2015). The six-month presidency, from July 2014 to December 2014, helped the Italian government to put Mediterranean migration crisis among important topics in the European Union. It also helped Italy to obtain the Triton operation which was led by the “FRONTEX” with the experience of Italian Naval forces.
During its presidency, the Italian government built its policy in three main components for EU’s adoption (Council of the European Union, 2014):
- Co-operation with third countries with primary focus on the fight against smugglers and trafficking in human beings;
- Strengthening of the ability of Frontex to respond in a flexible and timely manner to emerging risks and pressures;
- Actions within the EU to uphold and implement the common European Asylum system with a special emphasis on operational co-operation.
Among all these propositions, one appeared to be more realistic regarding the causes of Mediterranean crisis. The co-operation with third countries, especially Libya in fighting smugglers and traffic of persons seem, from our point of view, to be one of the strongest way to respond to Mediterranean migration crisis because, most of criminals who exploit vulnerability of those who search for ways to Europe do not care much about conditions of the Mediterranean trip and final sentence of migrants in any case. Whether they reach Lampedusa alive or not, after being pushed in the boat, candidates for illegal migration lose their destiny which would be decided by Mediterranean waters or European government policies which are, in this case, anti-migration-oriented.
Unfortunately, the Italian government did not succeed in using its presidency of the European Union Council to influence EU policies on migration. The Italian Government tried to play a key role on this issue as a policy-shaper in the European Unions but other countries only looked at Italy as a policy taker not a policy maker in the EU. Because one thing is to act as agenda setter, another thing is to the content of the EU common policy (Panebianco, 2016).
Some member States of the European Union acted in the light of Morgenthau (1978) who stated that in negotiations countries must look at their own interest and never allow a weak ally to make decisions which will engage others.
At the end Italy came up with another policy involving all EU’s countries. The policy was providing humanitarian visas to some migrants (refugees). Because, Italy is one of the countries in European Union, it goes without saying that this policy will affect other countries considering the freedom of circulation which is the rule on EU’s territory.
In the next section we analyze Italian decision of providing humanitarian Visas some migrant.
According to Talani (2009) the European Union is increasingly feeding the idea of common border regime. This became a reality by establishment of the Schengen space. Thus, any visa provided by one of Schengen’s states implies that the beneficiary of visa has the right to circulate freely in other countries of the Schengen space.
During the Italian government’s Mare Nostrum operation, rescued persons were placed in the island camp while awaiting their deportation to Libya or Tunisia. This means, migrants entered in Italian territory but could not move freely. Which led McMahon (2017) to opine that in terms of territory, the migrants had entered Italy but in terms of legal status they remained excluded from Italian state and society, and therefore from European Union.
Because of seriousness of the crisis and diverse causes of migration, the Italian government decided also to grant some migrant with a humanitarian status through a humanitarian visa. This meant that those who got that visa were welcome in the whole Schengen space. Surprisingly, this was only an illusion because some European Union states accused Italian government of irresponsibility by extending migrants’ burden. This attitude was justified by the migrants’ presence as a threat to economic and public order.
McMahon (2012) reports that, the German home affaires stated that Italy needed to solve its refugee problem itself, and the Austrian home affairs minister stated that his country would watch at what extent the humanitarian visa would work because Italian were providing visas without sufficient resources to feed those who got visas.
If some governments were in contestation of humanitarian visa, the French government went far by establishing a physic control at the frontier between Italy and France to check who was holding a humanitarian visa and ensured they were prevented from crossing to France. Because of such attitude while it is known that the French government participated heavily in the fall of Gaddafi, Scalvini (2011) argued that “for France, acting in a humanitarian manner means intervening in Libya’s civil war but does not imply to accept refugees from Libya or Tunisia within its borders.”
The question here is related to relation between territory and sovereignty. Even though European Union countries agreed to abolish barriers among them for free movement, they kept their sovereignty to banish those who were not welcome in their frontiers. The case of France in response to what Italy did illustrates it brightly. Thus, we may opine that humanitarian visa as an exceptional response to migrants’ flows did not heal the real sickness of the Mediterranean migration crisis.
European countries acted as if migrants’ flows were a threat to their borders. Yet, in his paper McMahon (2012) came to the conclusion that it is misleading to suppose that migration to Southern Europe, and in particular that of thousands of North Africans who arrived on the island of Lampedusa in 2011, has presented a challenge to borders of the European Union and its State Members.
Looking at the outcome, Italian responses both Mare Nostrum and humanitarian visa, we may therefore argue that national security led its actions upstream and humanitarian emergency reshaped its strategies downstream. This means, root causes of migration were not attacked deeply a part from signing agreements with Libyan and Tunisian government in order to send back rescued migrants and somehow fight smugglers at the Libyan and Tunisian coast.
Migration is a long-term process which has hotspot and cold times. If any response to this phenomenon is framed in a short-term spirit, whether the outcome is valuable or not, the vicious circle will come out anytime with its dark consequences. In case of Mediterranean migrants’ flows from North-Africa, it must be understood that all of them are not exclusively from North-African countries, most of them are from sub-Saharan countries. Thus, even if the Arab spring motivated the move of many North-African, the amount of those who risk their lives in the Mediterranean is largely dominated by other causes.
Root causes are complex and, in many cases, concern the political and social system of countries. But the concern about equality between North and South countries is also one of the key problems which leads to migration. In this context, migration control is really about regulating North-south relationships. Only when the central objective shifts to one of reducing inequality will migration become both successful and eventually superfluous (Castles, 2004).
Geisser (2015) suggested a series of actions to strive the crisis. He mainly argued that as recent events concerning refugees and migrants from Africa have shown, deportation is virtually impossible. Therefore, the only possibility to stop migrants’ flows is to require three countries, Germany, Austria and Sweden, to stop providing financial support to immigrants. In return, European Union will only provide practical support. In addition, free mobile phones should be discontinued and generous support provided by social workers and lawyers. As of now, humanitarian organizations for refugees should no longer receive financial support from the state. The next stage of deterrence would be the obligation for migrants to stay in camps far away from major cities.
It appears clearly that Geisser’s propositions are European-centric vision without any look at the root causes of Mediterranean migration crisis. Also, he argues as if European countries were victims of migration rather than beneficiary and to some extent causes of the crisis. We look at another angle which appears to be more relevant in understanding root causes of the Mediterranean migration crisis.
Mediterranean migration phenomenon is neither the first nor the last. As long as root causes will remain, crisis will break out anytime without the knowledge of countries. In the Case of Libyan borders, the collapse of Gaddafi who was dealing properly with smugglers and fighting illegal migration, led to the rise of migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the European Union countries were to some extent involved in the Libyan tragedy. Thus, one of best strategies is to set a fair policy aimed at rebuilding peace and acceptable social life as it was under Gaddafi at least. Otherwise, the vicious circle in which the country is locked nowadays will always have a negative impact on migrants’ flows to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
Summing up the above, the Libyan political collapse is one of main causes of the migrant crisis and European Union is divided, incoherent and uncoordinated in her foreign policy on Libyan case (Koening, 2012).
In this paper, we looked at Italian government responses to the Mediterranean migration crisis which broke out between 2011 and 2015. Most of the European countries looked at it as a threat to their frontiers but it has been shown that this was not true. Yet, the fact is that migrant flows from Libyan coast to Europe was unpredictable and required adequate responses but European countries seemed to be more protective of their borders than any other thing.
To his hand, the Italian government was called to act promptly in response to a crisis which was occurring in its territory and making the Mediterranean an emerging cemetery. An Agreement was signed with Libyan government in Tripoli. Unfortunately, this government was unable to control the whole Libyan territory, especially to rule out smugglers. Therefore, this agreement did not help much in fighting illegal migration. After that, the Mare Nostrum operation was set up with a mission to rescue migrants (refugees) in the Mediterranean and deal with smugglers. This operation achieved some success in saving lives and arresting smugglers. But the cost was too much for the Italian budget. That’s why this operation was stopped after just one year. The last response was the humanitarian visas provided to some migrant (refugees) who entered in Italian territory. But this policy was not welcome by all European Union countries because granting migrants with a legal status implied to recognize their right of free movement in the Schengen area. And some EU’s countries felt threaten by such policy.
Analyzing whether Italian responses were efficient and effective in a long-term perspective in fighting illegal migration through the Mediterranean, we came to the conclusion that these responses addressed symptoms instead of addressing roots causes of Mediterranean migration crisis. This crisis grew after the collapse of Gaddafi. The adequate response could be to set policies which intended to rebuild peace in Libya and Libyan government power to control its territory which became a battle field with different negative forces. Such policies must be undertaken in cohesion with all EU’s countries, NATO state members and the United Nations because of the role they played in Gaddafi’s fall. Another cause which must be embraced is the growing inequality between north and south countries. Moreover, African countries’ local affairs should not be a concern of any other country nor International Organization out of its purpose. A win-win based partnership must be the main rock of bilateral and multilateral relations.
African leaders should set policies to provide for good living standards for their citizens instead of working for personal interest. It is also a call for African pride and consciousness that Africans should understand that they are the ones who will determine Africa’s development.
As long as the above causes will not be addressed, Libyan coast will continue to receive people who are ready to risk their lives in the Mediterranean for the “promise land”, Europe, even though this is an illusion.
References : - Italy is paying Libya to intercept migrants on the Mediterranean available on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpAQGyp6IcY watched on 2nd June 2019 - Frontex is the European Boarder and Coast Guard Agency which was established in 2004 with the mission of promoting, coordinating and developing European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights character and concept of integrated border management. The agency has also the mission to carry out vulnerability assessments to evaluate the capacity and readiness of each Member state to face challenges at its external borders, including migratory pressure.
- The Schengen area is an area which cover 26 European states which agreed through the Schengen Agreement (1985) and Schengen Convention (1985) to become a common and unique territory in terms of international travels and borders control. The main rule is freedom of Circulation without passport and control for states citizens or those who have a legal permit to live in one of state members of the Schengen area.
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