Hundreds of desperate refugees from North Africa drowned this month after their overcrowded boats sank in the Mediterranean. This past weekend there was another close call. More than 700 migrants traveling in five boats were rescued off the coast of Sicily by the Italian navy and coastguard. The European Union’s border agency says about 30,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from Africa during the first nine months of this year. That’s three times higher than the migration for all 12 months of 2012.
News outlets report that the disasters at sea have sparked a wave of emotion and reopened the debate on the E.U.’s migration policy. Richer northern European countries such as Germany and Sweden are at odds with southern countries where the migrants are first landing.
The president of the European Parliament says member countries need to consider radical changes to the asylum policy. The European Parliament this month approved a new border surveillance program that members began working on in 2008. The European commissioner promised the parliament that the Eurostar program will save lives once it launches in December. But skeptics say the program is designed to secure borders, and not to help boats full of migrants that are in danger.
To learn more about the migration issue, Global Journalist spoke to a migration policy expert from Brussels, a foreign correspondent in Rome, and the editor of a news website in Malta.
Matthew Vella is the editor of maltatoday.com.mt.
Christopher Emsden is a Wall Street Journal correspondent based in Rome.
Elizabeth Collett is the director of the Migration Policy Institute - Europe.