According to a new post by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Mediterranean Sea is one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes and is “cluttered with sunk rubber dinghies.”
Nonetheless, despite the record-breaking number of deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean this year (over 4,650), European border control forces continue to encourage Africans to attempt the perilous crossing by assuring them safe passage to Italy once they set out from Libyan shores.
As the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Friday, fatalities in 2016 “have already surpassed by 1,186 the total number of missing migrants recorded lost in the Mediterranean for the whole of 2015.”
— UNHCR Malta (@UNHCRMalta) November 25, 2016
Earlier this month, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière proposed returning seafaring African migrants home rather than bringing them to Italy, in order to discourage more people from attempting the dangerous crossing. The European Union has been accused of effectively offering African migrants a free “taxi service” to Italian shores.
De Maizière said that those “saved in the Mediterranean should be sent back to Africa” instead of taking them to Europe, in order to remove incentives for migrants while also weakening the exploitive human traffickers who organize the crossings.
“Eliminating the prospect of reaching Europe could keep them from risking their lives in a dangerous journey,” he said.
While some criticized de Maizière’s plan on the grounds that it unfairly denies asylum to refugees, others were quick to point out that the vast majority of African migrants entering Europe are not refugees at all but economic migrants trying to take advantage of Europe’s generous social welfare benefits.
Most of the African migrants coming to Italy are not refugees escaping from war or even poor people fleeing hunger, but young, middle-class males, according to Professor Anna Bono of the University of Turin, an expert in African migration.
Bono also said that human traffickers in sub-Saharan Africa are actively promoting emigration to Italy through extensive ad campaigns.
“In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa there are advertisements inciting people to go to Italy, explaining that everything here is free,” she said.
According to the IOM, the top eight countries of origin for migrants arriving in Europe in 2016 are all from the African continent rather than the war-torn Middle East. In order, they are Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Somalia, and Mali.
A disturbing new report released earlier this week revealed that the rate of criminality among legal immigrants in Italy is almost double the crime rate among Italian citizens (8.5 criminals per 1000 vs. 4.3 criminals per 1000).
More alarming still, among illegal immigrants the crime rate soars to more than 50 percent (148 criminals out of every 247 persons).
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