How to understand the greatest tragedy in the Mediterranean

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Until the spring of 2015, the tragedy of Lampedusa in the month of October 2013 – in which 366 immigrants died – remained the largest migratory catastrophe in the Mediterranean in the 21st century.

The disappearance of at least 800 people in the sinking of a ship last weekend, added to at least 400 immigrants that passed away in another shipwreck on April 12, made us fear the worst: “a tragedy without equal in the Mediterranean”, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The terrible figures are unfortunately right.

1600 It is the number of immigrants missing in the Mediterranean since the 1 January 2015. About 35,000 arrived by boat to the South of Europe, according to an estimation of UNHCR.

1700 is the number of deaths reached in just four months – to the 900 deaths that happened in the beginning of the year, we have to add 800 more people in the last weekend shipwreck- in comparison with 90 deaths during the same period of last year. Since the 1st of January 2015, if the balance of 400 deaths a month is confirmed, we get an average of a death every two hours in the Mediterranean's waters

Almost half of deaths in 2014 in accordance with the UNHCR have been achieved in only a quarter of 2015. In 2014, we already reached a record number of deaths of immigrants in the Mediterranean: it was then already four times higher than in 2013, six times more than in 2012 and twice more than in 2011 – the year of the “Arab spring “.

22,000 It is the number of immigrants who have died trying to reach Europe since 2000, mainly through the Mediterranean, according to the estimates of the report of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on migratory movements in the world, i.e. an average of 1,500 deaths a year.

21.191 It is the number of immigrants who have come to the coast of Italy sincethe 1st of January 2015, according to IOM estimates – a record that does not take into account the figures of the wreck on April 19.

Every day, between 500 and 1,000 people are assisted by the Italian coast guard or Italian merchant ships.

150,000 This is at least the number of people who have been helped by the rescue operation “Mare Nostrum”from October 2013 to October 2014 in accordance with the Italian Navy, i.e., more than 400 people a day on average. The humanitarian military operation launched by Italy to monitor the waters of the Mediterranean also helped arrest 351 drug traffickers.

3 MILLION This is the monthly budget, in euros, of the 'Tritón' operation, launched on 01 November 2014 after the end of “Mare Nostrum”. The duration of the operation, which has not been defined, depends mainly on the budget allocated to the external borders of the Agency European for Control (Frontex) that in 2015 is of €114 million (approximately €9.5 million per month, the equivalent of the monthly budget of the only operation “Mare Nostrum”( 9 million per month). A budget that is still modest.

2.510.000 This is the area in square kilometres of the Mediterranean Sea. “We must not forget that the Mediterranean is huge]…], can not control and monitor all the areas that can be reached by the immigrants in order to try to avoid tragedies”said Monday 20 April the Deputy Director of Frontex, Gil Arias.

Among the solutions to avoid the wrecks of immigrants, Gil Arias said that one of the proposed solutions is to open “new channels of legal migration” for people fleeing conflicts.

5 This is the number of States of the European Union: Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom - from a total of 28 members who agree to grant asylum to immigrants.
“Five of a total of twenty-eight members… The load should be better distributed. In Italy, we are overwhelmed, and there is no more space in the cemeteries of Sicily to bury the dead “, said the Secretary of European Affairs Sandro Gozi.


Le Monde