By Ellie Kreidie,
Currently, one of the world’s worst manmade disasters is occurring in the sea. In recent years, countless stories have been written on the thousands of migrants and refugees taking the difficult and life-threatening journey from Libya to European borders. Sadly, often the only time this story is posted on the front page is when there has been a large death toll. Thankfully, in recent months, the number of fatalities has decreased significantly. However, it’s not the Libyan authorities that should be praised for their work in regaining control of their shores, nor should European nations for trying to save the lives of these migrants at sea, it is nonprofits and volunteers that are the ones on the ground saving hundreds of lives a day.
As of June this year, 75,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea for a new life. More than 1,770 didn’t make it, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Last year was the deadliest year on record with 5,096 deaths at sea, though there were probably more. To everyone across the world the stories of weekly deaths at cost from travel seem like a everyday thing, something we can’t change. But we can.
I’m proud that extraordinary nonprofits like Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross, and other prominent humanitarian grassroots and activists have worked tirelessly to save lives with few resources. Governments that these countries work with dispatch rescue boats to bring the refugees to the mainland. Yet the nonprofits must obey the rules and regulations set up by the nation within its borders. In the case of Italy this past summer, if a nonprofit where to go against any of its rules on their mission to help migrants, they would not be allowed to bring those migrants to its border. These organizations can only help at sea, it is the governments that are only able to end this deadly travel. And yet, as seen in Italy’s case, they seem as if they want the nonprofits themselves to solve it. Nonprofits aren’t the rulers of law, they work around international law to save lives.
Rumors and evidence have risen for years that government authorities and militias working with the government in Libya, are part of the heavy percentage of enslavement of African migrants. Barriers and borders have gone up faster since a Brussels summit in 2015, when European nations overwhelmingly supported closing borders to migrants and enforcing the use of the coast guard to remove migrants once they arrive on shore. With few migrants being allowed asylum in Europe, most are forced back to Libya and go through the same process over and over again.
Countries are just as fault for the migrant issue as anyone else. Currently, there is a nonstop circle where more migrants are being saved, more are being returned to Libya, and more are coming. The circle can be stopped, but it is up to Libyan and European authorities to put people over policies and truly help. Or else the numbers will continue to rise and more blood will be on these countries hands.
Ellie is a freshman.