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More Migrants are Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

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Close to a hundred (100) migrants have either drowned or gone missing during January 2024 in the Mediterranean Sea. The tragic loss of life, more than double compared to the same month last year, was reported by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) during the Italy-Africa summit in Rome. Reports from the IOM clearly indicate that “the number of migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea has risen significantly in the past year. The organisation’s Missing Migrants Project found that 3,041 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean Sea in 2023, a sharp rise from from 2,411 in 2022, and the highest number since 2017. Since 2014, a total of 28,893 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea, the IOM reports. The route with the highest number of dead and missing migrants was the one through the Central Mediterranean, with 22,824.” [1]

In early February, more than one thousand (1,000) migrants arrived in the Canary Islands of Spain in eighteen (18) boats within three days, all from sub-Saharan countries. Spanish officials stated that 7,270 migrants arrived in the month of January alone, almost the same figure accounting for the first six months of 2023. The vast majority of migrants depart from West Africa, with most boats coming from Mauritania. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are due to visit the West African country to discuss the matter with local authorities. Even though “Spain and the European Union have cooperation agreements with both Mauritania and neighboring Senegal to try to reduce the number of migrants arriving on the islands, […] some young people insist on taking their chances and say there are few opportunities and sometimes political turmoil at home.” [2] According to Spain’s Ministry of Interior, some 55,618 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands by boat in 2023, accounting for almost twice the number of the previous year. Sadly, “The Spanish non-profit organization Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) says more than 6,600 migrants died while trying to reach Spain by boat last year, most of them on the Atlantic route. The figure is more than double the number reported by the organization for 2022.” [2]

War in Sudan is expected to rapidly increase the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea as “[m]ore than 9 million people are thought to be internally displaced in Sudan, and 1.5 million refugees have fled into neighboring countries in 10 months of clashes between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.” [3] As Sudan’s neighbouring countries are in no position to provide refugees with food and shelter, they are quite likely to try and reach north African countries and, then, make the journey through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Christos Kassimeris, PhD

Christos Kassimeris, PhD

Professor Christos Kassimeris heads the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at European University Cyprus and is coordinator of the BA in European Politics and Communication. Before joining European University Cyprus, he was teaching European Integration Politics and International Relations of the Mediterranean for three years at the University of Reading. He is the author of European Football in Black and White: Tackling Racism in Football (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), Greece and the American Embrace: Greek Foreign Policy Towards Turkey, the US and the Western Alliance (I.B. Tauris Academic Studies, 2009) and Football Comes Home: Symbolic Identities in European Football (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2010), editor of Anti-racism in European Football: Fair Play for All (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009), The Marketing of War in the Age of Neo-Militarism (Routledge, 2011) and The Politics of Education: Challenging Multiculturalism (Routledge, 2011), and has several publications in political science journals. He is also Visiting Research Fellow at the University of De Montfort.

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