2016 was the deadliest on record for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean. More than 5,000 migrants died according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an average of fourteen people every day. Most of these were travelling the central Mediterranean route.
On Tuesday 9 May 2017, as many as 250 migrants were believed to have drowned when two refugee boats sunk in the Mediterranean. This latest disaster pushes the death toll up to a record 1,300 in 2017 so far.
The Lampedusa tragedy in 2013 was met with an outpouring of sympathy and grief across Europe. Since then, however, the numbers of dead have grown so overwhelming that it’s become difficult to process. Sympathy has turned to hostility, particular as the migrant flows include a mixture of people fleeing conflict or persecution (for example refugees from Somalia and Eritrea) and economic migrants.
European media has also focused on the decline in asylum seekers across the continent after the influx of 2015. According to EU statistics, the number of first time asylum applicants in the 28 member states of the EU decreased by 15% in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the same quarter of 2015.
In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.
This week, we focus on discussions in Berlin, the capital of Germany. On 24 April 2017, Debating Europe hosted an event with Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance.
The event, which took place in Berlin, brought together a panel including Julia Black, Project Coordinator for the International Organization for Migration (IOM); Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law at the Hertie School of Governance; Laurent Muschel, Director for Migration and Protection in Directorate-General for Home Affairs, European Commission; Tankred Stöbe, a member of the International Board of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and Ralph Wilde from the Faculty of Laws at University College London (UCL) and a member of the UCL Migration Research Unit.
Together with students and Berliners, they discussed why has the issue of deadly crossings has faded from the European public agenda. Are people becoming indifferent to migrant deaths? Has this “normalisation” led to a policy impasse? You can see the full video from the event below:
Are Europeans becoming indifferent to migrant deaths? Why has the issue of deadly crossings faded from the European public agenda? Has this “normalisation” led to a policy impasse? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!