A Syrian mother with her two young daughters, escaping from the raging Syrian civil war, travelled from Alexandria, the capital city of Egypt to the Italian island of Lampedusa. They had to endure a three-day trip across the Mediterranean. The mother said she paid a great amount of money to smugglers to ensure the safety of the journey. However, what she saw was a 200-people boat carried 500 passengers, and the boat could sink at any moment (“Who are the”). This is a typical story of a migrant to Europe. In the past few days, there have been a growing number of migrants coming from all directions gathered in Calais, France trying to find their way to the UK. Many have tried to jump on to trucks heading to the UK. Many have tried to jump on to trains travelling through the Eurotunnel. And, of course, some of them have lost their lives. Thus, one may wonder what are the root causes of this wave of migrants, why are there a growing number of migrants this year, and how are they affecting the UK, France, and the rest of Europe?
To determine the root causes of this wave of migrants, European officials are gathering data on the origins of the migrants, and searching for answers why did these migrants leave their homelands. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Europe, most of the migrants currently in Calais are fleeing from violence in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan (“Why is there”). However, violence is not the only factor. Human rights abuses also contribute to the motivation for many to escape. An Eritrean refugee named Sofia said one of her friends was just chatting with a Libyan official in a café, and then was wrongfully accused of passing information to this official. She is still in jail (Anderson, Jones, and Kingsley). The principle of presumption of innocence does not seem to reside in this country. Sofia also said, “If I die at sea, it’s not a problem – at least I won’t be tortured” (Anderson, Jones, and Kingsley). Moving into the deeper corners of Africa, the sub-Saharan Africa, many are suffering from HIV, malnutrition, land degradation, and poverty. To escape from the agony of their lives, many sub-Saharans choose to migrate to the prosperous Europe. All in all, these migrants all share one strong, heartfelt desire: even if they face death, they will not return to their home countries.
There are always migrants coming from these devastating nations, but why there is such a huge increase in migrants this year? According to Laurence Peter of BBC News, giving statistics from the United Nations and Frontex, 153,000 migrants have successfully crossed into Europe so far, and this is a 149% increase from 2014 (Peter). As they reach the Balkans, many migrants decide to settle in different parts of the continent. Countries such as Greece, Italy, and Hungary are willing to keep them (Peter). Seeing this success, prospective migrants cast their eyes over Europe. Moreover, thanks to the chaos caused by the two rival governments battling for control in Libya, and the grand entry of the Islamic State into the country, smugglers are exploiting migrants without adequate intervention from the authorities (Peter). As a result, smugglers in Libya are becoming more prosperous from this increasing demand for illegal migration. On the side of Europe, the EU has already threatened the smugglers, saying that it will launch military operations against them. However, a smuggler such as Hajj, from the port city Zuwara of Libya, is not afraid because he said that these threats have been going on for years, and the EU has done nothing so far (Kingsley). Thus, the issue of illegal migrants continues to spread across the European continent.
This wide spread of migrants has cost Europe dearly, from increasing security measures to traffic delays for businesses. Both the UK and French governments are tackling this recent surge of migrants in Calais with millions of euros. The installation of fences, the increase of presence of police, and the effort of finding the smugglers are all a part of this spending. As the desperate
migrants attempt to cross the Eurotunnel, the Franco-British owner of the tunnel, Groupe Eurotunnel, has increased its spending to €30 million in security, which is three times higher than its average annual spending (Giannangeli). In addition, the European Commission sends €27 million to the UK and €22 million to France for additional assistance (“France 24”). Economic disruptions in businesses have also been a headache for many British and European companies that are trying to cross the English Channel. According to Jenny Gorss and Matthias Verbergt of Wall Street Journal, citing statistics from the Freight Transport Association of the UK, the British transport industry is incurring an expense of around £750,000 a day because of the crisis (Gross, Verbergt). Companies that require rapid transportation of their products such as seafood companies have to mark their prices down because of the shortened shelf life (Gross, Verbergt). It is clear that the violence and human rights abuses of other parts of the world are now a part of Europe’s problem.
This is the 21st century. Conflict, desperation, hunger, and persecutions continue to drive people out of their homes. En route to Europe, many travel through deserts, mountains, and seas. It is a difficult journey, and many die on the way. The surge of this year’s migrants to Europe is due to the willingness of some European nations to keep the migrants, the escalating violence in North Africa, and the growing business of transporting migrants. Ultimately, this massive influx of refugees causes many problems for European security and its economies. Something has to be done to stop the flow of migrants, and that is a current topic in the European Union.
Anderson, Mark, Sam Jones, and Patrick Kingsley. "Escaping Eritrea: 'If I Die at Sea, It's Not a Problem – at Least I Won't Be Tortured'" The Guardian. 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
"France 24 - EU Offers to Help France, Britain Tackle Calais Migrant Crisis." France 24. 5 Aug. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
Giannangeli, Marco. "EXCLUSIVE: Calais Crisis Will NEVER End until ALL Migrants Are Removed, Blasts Eurotunnel." Express. 5 Aug. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
Gross, Jenny, and Matthias Verbergt. "Businesses Worry Over Financial Impact of Calais Migrant Crisis." WSJ. 4 Aug. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
Kingsley, Patrick. "Libya's People Smugglers: Inside the Trade That Sells Refugees Hopes of a Better Life." The Guardian. 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
Peter, Laurence. "Why Is EU Struggling with Migrants and Asylum? - BBC News." BBC News. 26 June 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
"Who Are the Mediterranean's Migrants? - BBC News." BBC News. 5 June 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.
"Why Is There a Crisis in Calais? - BBC News." BBC News. 30 July 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015.