Operation Sophia, the EU’s naval mission in the Mediterranean: an impossible challenge Contents

Chapter 2: The challenge of mass migration

An era of mass migration

12.Migration has been described by Mr William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM, as a “’mega-trend’ of this century”.15 He noted that “more people are on the move than ever before—more than one billion in our seven-billion person world”.16 Governments had, in particular, not kept pace with the phenomenon of “forced migration”—migratory movements in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood:17

“There is a disjuncture between contemporary patterns and processes of forced migration, and the current legal … frameworks to protect forced migrants. The increasingly visible, unintended consequences of the current system call for a new way of thinking about protection, development, and humanitarian response.”18

Migration into Europe

13.According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 1, 015, 078 migrants arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean Sea in 2015.19 Between January and late April 2016, 181, 168 migrants had arrived to Europe by sea routes, according to IOM figures.20

14.Three main routes are used to reach Europe:

The number of migrants using these three routes in 2014 and 2015 are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Migrant routes into Europe in 2014 and 2015

Map of the Mediterranean showing migrant routes into Europe and the numbers of migrants in 2014 and 2015

Source: Figures for 2014 and 2015 migration from Frontex, Risk Analysis for 2016 (March 2016) p16: http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Annula_Risk_Analysis_2016.pdf [12 April 2016]

15.The top ten nationalities of all Mediterranean Sea arrivals in 2016 to date have been Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Nigerians, Gambians, Guineans, Senegalese and Côte d’Ivoireans.22 The statistics demonstrate that Europe is currently witnessing a mixed migration challenge, whereby economic migrants and asylum seekers travel on the same routes to reach Europe. This is particularly evident on the central Mediterranean route, which the European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders of the Member States (Frontex) points out has been a historic migration route into Europe.23

16.According to data from Frontex, in 2015 the three principal nationalities crossing on the central Mediterranean route were Eritreans (38,791), Nigerians (21,914) and Somalis (12,430).24 In March 2016 Mr Richard Lindsay, Head of Security Policy Department, Defence and International Security Directorate, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), informed us that, according to the UNHCR figures for 2016, the principal nationalities of migrants crossing via the central Mediterranean route were Nigerians (17%), Gambians (13%), Guineans (10%), Senegalese (9%) and Moroccans (9%).25

17.These figures should be treated with some caution. A precise breakdown of migrants by nationality is difficult, not least because, across all routes, false declarations of nationality “are rife among nationals who are unlikely to obtain asylum in the EU, are liable to be returned to their country of origin or transit, or just want to speed up their journey.”26 A further challenge is that the sheer number of arrivals make an orderly sorting of migrants extremely difficult for the recipient countries, principally Italy and Greece.

18.The largest single category of migrants coming to Europe (via all sea routes) is adult males. According to the UNHCR, of arrivals since January 2016, 45% were men, 35% were children, and 20% were women.27 In 2015 the demographic breakdown was 50% men, 30% children, and 19% women.28

19.We note two final figures: In 2015, 3,771 people died crossing the Mediterranean (across all routes).29 Since January 2016, 1,261 people are known to have drowned or are missing at sea.30

Conclusions and recommendations

20.The current migration crisis is exacerbated by conflicts in the Middle East and the security vacuum in Libya, but it is also part of a wider phenomenon of mass migration from the developing to the developed world. This will remain a challenge for the developed world in the long term.

21.Current policies to deal with economic migration and refugees are unable to cope with the numbers in question. The international legal architecture, political acceptance and financial resources to manage an era of mass migration are not in place. This must be addressed urgently at the European level.

15 William Lacy Swing, ‘Opening remarks, European Conference 2016: Promoting the Multidisciplinary Approach in Addressing Migrant Smuggling’ (12 January 2016): https://www.iom.int/speeches-and-talks/opening-remarks-european-conference-2016-promoting-multidisciplinary-approach [accessed 27 April March 2016]

16 IOM, ‘Migration in a World in Disarray’: IOM Director General (13 October 2015): https://www.iom.int/news/migration-world-disarray-iom-director-general [accessed 27 April 2016]

17 The IOM defines forced migration as “a migratory movement in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes (e.g. movements of refugees and internally displaced persons as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects).” IOM, Key Migration Terms: http://www.iom.int/key-migration-terms [accessed 14 April 2016]

18 William Lacy Swing, ‘Remarks, 15th Plenary Meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration: Development, Mobility Protection—Building Opportunity into Refugee Solutions’, (15 January 2016): https://www.iom.int/speeches-and-talks/remarks-15th-plenary-meeting-transatlantic-council-migration-development-mobility [accessed 27 April 2016]

19 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response: Mediterranean’ (March 2016): http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php [accessed 12 April 2016]

20 International Organisation for Migration, ‘Migration Flows—Europe’ (figures as of 27 April 2016): http://migration.iom.int/europe/ [accessed 27 April 2016]

21 Frontex, ‘Central Mediterranean route’ (2016): http://frontex.europa.eu/trends-and-routes/central-mediterranean-route/ [accessed 21 April 2016]

22 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response: Mediterranean’: http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php [accessed 27 April 2016]

23 Frontex, ‘Central Mediterranean route’ (2016): http://frontex.europa.eu/trends-and-routes/central-mediterranean-route/ [accessed 14 April 2016] Frontex was established as an EU agency in 2004, to reinforce and streamline co-operation between national border authorities.

24 Frontex, Risk Analysis for 2016, (March 2016) p16: http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Annula_Risk_Analysis_2016.pdf [accessed on 27 April 2016] The Frontex statistics are based on the detection of illegal border crossings at the EU’s external borders. In 2014, the principal three nationalities were Syrians (39,651), Eritreans (33,559) and un-specified Sub-Saharan African nationals (26,340). Frontex, Risk Analysis for 2015, (April 2015) p16: http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Annual_Risk_Analysis_2015.pdf [accessed on 27 April 2016]

26 Frontex, Risk Analysis for 2016, (March 2016) p7: http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Annula_Risk_Analysis_2016.pdf [accessed on 11 April 2016].

27 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response: Mediterranean’ (figures as of 27 April 2016): http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php [accessed 27 April 2016]

28 Oral evidence taken on 21 January 2016 (Session 2015–16), Q 1 (Edward Hobart). The figures have been rounded.

29 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response: Mediterranean’: http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php [accessed 27 April 2016]

30 Ibid (figures as of 27 April 2016) [accessed 27 April 2016]

© Parliamentary copyright 2016