Italy Boat Sinking: Why Do Europe-bound Migrants Keep Dying?

In the near-term, Europe needs help in addressing crime – countries such as Moldova lie on important trafficking routes towards the EU. In the Caucasus, territorial disputes such as that between Armenia and Azerbaijan could hurt Europe’s energy aims and pull it into conflict with Russia. “The fundamental interest in the eastern partnership is to have a zone of stability to the east of the European Union and not be faced with state failure … in which case there could be spillover into the EU,’ said Michael Leigh, a senior adviser with the General Marshall Fund in Brussels. PAY THE PRICE But for all its planning, Europe also knows retribution, in the shape of an energy squeeze, is likely from Russia. Moscow, which has a long-standing disagreement with Ukraine over gas, has said it will raise Ukraine’s gas prices and officials do not rule out it doing the same for the EU, which gets nearly 40 percent of its gas from Russia. Moscow has in the past, during disputes with Ukraine, cut off the flow to EU member states, several of which are entirely dependent on Russia’s supplies, and could do so again. “We would not be surprised if they play the gas card, it’s among the factors we are taking into account,” said the EU official involved in the Ukraine negotiations. But the EU’s calculation also is that Russia, which relies on Europe for revenue from its gas, will not impose restrictive measures for very long. Knowing the immediate retaliatory impact of the association agreement will be felt first in Ukraine, where living standards are well below the EU average, Brussels is ready to take steps to support the country. These include allowing the free-trade benefits to kick in immediately – rather than Kiev having to wait until all 28 EU members have ratified the agreement. For Ukraine, with its economy based on steel, chemicals and agricultural products, free trade with a bloc of 500 million European consumers and businesses is a huge boon. But while the association agreement will bring extensive trade benefits and in time a deal on visas, Ukraine is seen as too different in too many respects to join the list of countries in line to join the European Union any time soon.

Insight: As Ukraine looks west to Europe, Russia’s shadow looms

They are still bringing them out,” said Giusi Nicolini, Lampedusas mayor. We dont have space for all the bodies theres no room to bury them. Its a dreadful tragedy. How many more tragedies like this have to happen before concrete measures are taken to prevent them? Ms. Nicolini said. Italian police arrested a Tunisian man who came ashore with the survivors on suspicion of being one of the human traffickers who had arranged the passage. He was reportedly identified as a smuggler by the other passengers, according to Nicolini. Italy is accustomed to the sight of exhausted immigrants coming ashore in leaky, converted fishing trawlers and open-sided boats, but the scale of this tragedy appeared to shake many in Italy. According to Fortress Europe, an Italian blog that tracks such deaths, an estimated 13,800 people have died trying to reach Europe from North Africa in the last 15 years, drowning when their boats engines failed or the vessels started taking on water. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 1,500 people died in the Mediterranean in 2011 alone. In the first six months of 2013, nearly 8,400 migrants and asylum-seekers arrived in Italy and neighboring Malta , according to the UNHCR. Migrants typically each pay around $1,600 to be taken from the coasts of Libya and Tunisia to Lampedusa or Malta, the closest pieces of European territory to North Africa. Italian officials have complained that the country received little help from the rest of the European Union to deal with the influx of migrants, which has increased since the Arab Spring political upheavals in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.