The Europeans and the Mediterranean sea war

Due to news of there being migrants at a railway station, we waited on a train for three hours before it was able to cross Calais. We arrived from France to London after midnight. Such chaos obstructing railway activity was not a first as the waves of migrants who sneaked into Europe have become the European Union’s major security, economic and legal challenges. The bloc is holding meetings to finalize laws to resolve the problem and there's talk of forming a naval power in the Mediterranean sea to control navigation and prevent illegal migration - a step that will require international approvals.

Despite complaints, the number of migrants arriving in Europe is still reasonable - it's possible that they can be accommodated on the continent. There are 200,000 illegal migrants so far, however, European governments fear are the numbers that follow. It is possible that millions fleeing Africa and Asia will be willing to swim to Europe. If this happens, the situation may become out of control, placing Europe in a semi-state of war. Perhaps one Spanish official exaggerated this point when he warned that Europeans will become a minority in their own countries due to a migrant "invasion."

The question is: Why has the migrant flow into Europe suddenly surged now? What has opened up the perilous sea routes for them?

Why now?


One Arab analyst asserted that there are governments in the region intentionally pushing people to escape. This is unreasonable because the mass flows to Europe has become feasible because of two reasons; the first being the collapse of the regimes that were committed to guarding their shores, like in Libya and Syria. The absence of order has made the sea a wide open space for both smugglers and refugees. The second reason has been wars that have forcefully pushed thousands to seek refuge. This is expected, amid the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria, Libya and other countries and the displacement of more than 12 million. It is therefore practical to expect that the number of people fleeing to Europe will double.

Despite complaints, the number of migrants arriving in Europe is still reasonable - it's possible that they can be accommodated on the continent

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Truth be told, the influx of people fleeing into Europe because of the conflicts in the Middle East was a topic repeatedly discussed in recent years - particularly following the Arab Spring. What we are witnessing now should come as no surprise to us, however, it is to European governments as they've begun to suffer from it just now. If Europe is this worried about the entry of 200,000 people then we should now realize the difficult circumstances which countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – who have limited economic capabilities – have experienced as millions of refugees have fled to their cities and camps in recent years.

Europe and, more generally, the international community have two tasks they need to carry out in order to curb the crisis. The first is to support countries who sponsor refugees and provide essential services for them to stay. The second is to intervene in ending the tragedies in Syria and Libya. Hesitant policies have prolonged the struggle and in the end, we trust that collective military intervention will happen and that it will be the only solution to stop the wars, impose an international solution, leading to the return of refugees to their home countries and helping them resettle.

Without the support of neighboring countries who are hosting refugees and without military intervention, millions of people fleeing war will try to reach Europe, the stable continent with an economy capable of accommodating them, and the situation will worsen.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 6, 2015.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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