The recent tragedy that has cost the lives of more than 500 refugees in the Mediterranean draws attention to an EU border policy that continues to fail protecting lives of refugees. The tragedy in itself is a defeat to the idea of human dignity. However, to reveal the actual dimension of the humanitarian crisis at the EU’s external frontiers, it is important to set the tragedy into context and look at some numbers.
Amnesty International estimates that since 2000, 23,000 people have lost their lives in attempts to reach the EU. Further, the IOM’s Missing Migrant Program concludes that the estimate figure of deaths at Europe’s shores by September 2014 is already four times higher than the total of deaths in 2013.
In 2013, 63% of all migrants arriving to the EU by sea came from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Somalia. These are conflict-ridden countries torn by Human Right abuses. Therefore, persons fleeing these states are prima facie in need of international protection. Figures from refugees escaping the Syrian conflict reveal that by the end of April this year, from the 2.8 mil Syrians – from whom half are children – only 96,000 have reached the EU.
Coming back to the events of last week. If the numbers of the IOM Missing Migrant Program are verified, the past week, will have a death toll of over 700 drowned refugees. This makes it the most deadly period for refugees in the Mediterranean in recent years.