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Between the devil and the deep blue sea

An inquiry into the European Union’s border control operations in the Mediterranean Sea

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

An inquiry into the European Union’s border control operations in the Mediterranean Sea

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

The research sought to assess the impact of Operations Triton, Poseidon and Sophia on migrants seeking asylum in the EU, in terms of the risks associated with their journey and the prospect of finding asylum in the EU. It focussed on the period between 1 January 2015 and 14 September 2016, in which the abovementioned operations were either initiated or significantly scaled up.The findings were gathered through desk research, relying on data mainly from the UNHCR, the IOM, Eurostat, Europol, Frontex, the European Commission, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. A structured interview with a Frontex press officer was conducted to complement the desk research with detailed qualitative insights.
The research found that the abovementioned operations improved the chances of migrants being rescued at sea but also pressured or incentivised smugglers to:
- use less seaworthy vessels and cram more people onto them,
- reduce the amount of fuel and food on board,
- instruct migrants to operate the boats instead of doing so themselves,
- take alternative and possibly more dangerous routes,
- initiate multiple simultaneous departures and departures in bad weather conditions,
- charge higher fees, and
- threaten border guards at gun point.
All of this contributed to making the journey riskier per se, keeping the maritime death rate high in spite of more migrants being rescued, and increasing the prevalence of exploitation and abuse.
However, it also found that migrants that did risk the crossing and were intercepted at sea by Frontex operatives were sure to be disembarked in the EU, had better chances of being properly registered, and were granted access to the asylum procedure if they so wished. The expanded operations may thus have contributed to the notable increase in granted asylum applications in Greece and across the EU, improving the prospects of asylum-seekers, notwithstanding the increased risk of death, exploitation and abuse along the way.
In the concluding remarks, it was recommended that the EU find ways to continue granting access to the asylum procedure while preventing asylum-seekers from having to risk the crossing, and without exposing them to abuse and exploitation. This must include addressing the push and pull factors that actuate irregular migration flows to the EU, improving the humanitarian conditions in key transit countries, facilitating regular entry and stay, and bringing maritime border control operations within the remit of parliamentary scrutiny and judicial review at EU level.

Toon meer
OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingMO Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2017
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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