Why migrants are still dying
More than 1 million migrants entered Europe in 2015 and around 3,700 died on the way. In the first three weeks of this year, another 37,000 people have traveled to European Union countries. Behind the crisis:
Q: Why are people dying?
A: Most people are arriving in Greece after a 6- or 7-mile journey from the Turkish coast, though some still cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. Often their boats are unseaworthy, and few have reliable life jackets. Also, the E.U. has no active search and rescue mission. E.U. countries so far refuse to share sovereignty over their waters with other countries, so the bloc cannot legally establish a search and rescue mission. A new beefed-up European border agency plan is to be announced in March.
Q: How is the E.U. helping?
A: The E.U. has beefed up its border agency and launched a naval operation to hunt human traffickers. To ease the number of arrivals and prevent dangerous journeys across the sea, E.U. nations agreed to resettle at least 20,000 refugees by bringing them in directly from countries outside Europe. Twenty-three nations also agreed to share 160,000 refugees arriving in Greece and Italy over two years. The E.U. is to provide more than $3 billion plus aid to Turkey, as well as to countries neighboring Libya that migrants leave or travel across to get to Europe.
Q: What else is planned?
A: The E.U.’s executive commission has demanded that the expert teams should be working within a month. To better control the Turkey-Greece maritime border, the E.U. will look to endorse before July a European border and coast guard. In March, the commission will introduce policy proposals to control entry and exit more tightly, better register travelers and change the rules governing the passport-free zone that allows people to travel without border checks or visas through 26 countries in Europe. Currently the rules oblige people seeking refuge to apply for asylum in the country they first arrive in, which mostly means Greece and Italy. Those two are overwhelmed and they, along with many others, want the system modified.