From shore to shore: regional collapse and human insecurity

LAMPEDUSA, ITALY - APRIL 23:  A migrant woman waits to board a ship bound for Sicily on April 23, 2015 in Lampedusa, Italy. It is expected that EU leaders in Brussels are to agree later that only 5,000 resettlement places across Europe are to be offered to refugees under a new emergency summit crisis package. Hundreds of migrants continue to arrive in Lampedusa from North Africa taking advantage of calm seas. Hundreds of migrants are believed to have perished over the last week as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy in order to seek refuge.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LAMPEDUSA, ITALY – APRIL 23: A migrant woman waits to board a ship bound for Sicily on April 23, 2015 in Lampedusa, Italy. It is expected that EU leaders in Brussels are to agree later that only 5,000 resettlement places across Europe are to be offered to refugees under a new emergency summit crisis package. Hundreds of migrants continue to arrive in Lampedusa from North Africa taking advantage of calm seas. Hundreds of migrants are believed to have perished over the last week as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy in order to seek refuge. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

On April 15, 1912 a cruise liner set sail from England to New York City. As is widely known, it collided en route with an iceberg and since has forever been immortalised; books have been written, movies made, and recovery expeditions launched. What is striking is that whilst 1,517 people died on the Titanic, more than 1,700 have died already this year in the Mediterranean. The deaths in the Titanic have been recalled countlessly, but they also remind us about the way the class system played itself out in life and death – status determining who lived, and who were left to die.

A century later, we see something of the same but on a much larger, geopolitical, scale. Here it is not class playing itself out directly, but North-South relations, race and ethnicity, the failures of western foreign policy, and the problematic role national borders still play as fences and walls in an increasingly globalised world. But all that will be remembered from the current Mediterranean crisis, most likely, is the shocking number of deaths; the individuals and families in question appearing just as statistics.

Migration from North Africa to Europe is certainly not a new trend.  For years the Mediterranean has been a thoroughfare for migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe. Whilst migrants have started their journeys from many African countries, they are typically bound by a common goal to escape persecution, to flee conflict, and to find greater economic and social opportunities. However, there are notable differences in migration patterns over the last few years. Continue reading… 

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