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Mediterranean Cruising Update - regarding the migrant crisis

By Tom Sampson — last modified Jan 19, 2019 09:22 AM
Contributors: The Independent, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), European Border and Coastguard Agency (FRONTEX)
The migrant crisis, once most prevalent in the Eastern Mediterranean, has now encompassed the Western Mediterranean Sea particularly between Morocco and Spain. However, sailors should not be deterred from these waters by increasing terrorism threats and the ongoing migrant crisis.

Published: 2019-01-18 16:00:00
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Algeria , Albania , Croatia , Cyprus , Egypt , France , Gibraltar , Greece , Israel , Italy , Lebanon , Libya , Malta , Morocco , Spain , Syria , Tunisia , Turkey

Mediterranean Cruising Update - regarding the migrant crisis

courtesy of: www.newindianexpress.com

Last year the number of illegal border-crossings at Europe’s external borders fell by a quarter compared with 2017 to an estimated 150,000, the lowest level in five years. The total for 2018 was also 92% below the peak of the migratory crisis in 2015.

Eastern Mediterranean

Since the arrival of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), a fleet of vessels from allied nations, there has been a decline of reported migrant crossings in the Eastern Mediterranean. In addition, increased pressure from Turkey to stop migrants leaving Turkish shores has also seen seen a dramatic decrease in numbers attempting the journey.

Central Mediterranean

There was also a dramatic fall in the number of migrants taking the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. The number of detections of irregular crossings on this route plunged 80% compared to 2017 to slightly more than 23,000.

The Central Mediterranean route saw the smallest number of irregular entries since 2012. The number of departures from Libya dropped 87% from a year ago, and those from Algeria fell by nearly a half. Departures from Tunisia stayed roughly unchanged.

Western Mediterranean

Meanwhile, the number of arrivals in Spain via the Western Mediterranean route doubled last year for the second year in a row to 57,000, making it the most active migratory route into Europe for the first time.

In 2018 almost 40 per cent of all Mediterranean irregular migrants have come via the Western Mediterranean route, whose irregular migration volume has more than tripled.

On the Western Mediterranean route, Morocco has become the main departure point to Europe. Most of the migrants on this route originated from sub-Saharan countries,

The EU Position

Significantly, the European Union has condemned rescue boats picking up drowning refugees in the Mediterranean. Adopting a dramatic hardening of the bloc’s border policy.

After a summit in Brussels, EU leaders suggested that vessels should stay away from boats carrying migrants, and could be breaking the law by picking up those in distress. A position already held by the Italian Government.

As a result, EU NAVFOR MED Sophia, which started on June 22, 2015 and was formed to disrupt the business of human smuggling and trafficking in the Mediterranean, and prevent loss of life at sea, ceased operations on July 27, 2017.

A communiqué issued by the European Council warns the vessels’ operators that they should defer to the Libyan coastguard, which, NGOs say, amounts to “deliberately condemning vulnerable people to be trapped in Libya, or die at sea”.

Advice to Yacht Skippers

If leisure vessels spot migrant boats, it is important to have a plan to avoid interaction. Migrants have been known to sink their own boats to force a rescue mission.

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