Thousands of people are fleeing the Middle East and Northern Africa for the shores of Europe this spring because of unrest in their home countries, and many aren’t surviving the trip.
More than 1,700 have died this year after their overloaded vessels foundered in the Mediterranean Sea. What motivates people to endure such a risky journey, and what should be done in response?
Related | In the article “Displaced Again and Again, Some African Migrants Had No Plan to Land in Italy,” the New York Times reporter Jim Yardley speaks with people who have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe.
The Syrians usually arrive with money, bearing broken lives in canvas bags, and are able to slip out of Italy, bound for affluent northern Europe. The Eritreans may be far less wealthy but they too are well organized, with networks that move them north as well.
Then there are men like Agyemin Boateng and Prince Adawiah, who were scooped out of the Mediterranean this month by an Italian rescue ship. Both are from Ghana, and neither has a plan for a new life in Europe — nor, they say, did either of them ever plan to come to Italy. They were working as laborers in Libya, until life there became untenable and returning to Ghana became unfeasible.
“There are guns and bombs,” said Mr. Adawiah, 25, who worked in Tripoli for nearly three years. “Every day, there is shooting. I’m afraid. That is why I traveled to Italy.”
Focus Questions for Discussion
- What motivates people to move from their home countries to Europe?
- What obstacles do they experience along the way?
- What do they encounter once they arrive in Europe?
- What should be done in response to this migration crisis?