In 2015, more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean, arriving at the shore of southern Europe in search of protection or a better life. In the same period more than 3,700 people lost their lives, drowning as overloaded and often unseaworthy boats sank into the sea. Although the crisis is in many ways nothing new, these scenes have captured the public and media imagination and have challenged the ability of European States to respond appropriately. Recent months have seen increasingly heated discussions at the national and EU level about whether rescues at sea are a vital humanitarian intervention or simply encourage others to attempt the crossing, and whether those who arrive can be dealt with through mandatory or voluntary relocation quotas. Many of these discussions are underpinned by assumptions about why it is that people make the journey to Europe in the first place.
In this seminar Professor Heaven Crawley will report on the preliminary findings of an ESRC funded research project which explores the experiences of migrants crossing the Mediterranean through interviews with 500 migrants and refugees in Italy, Greece, Malta and Turkey. The seminar will consider some of the reasons why so many people have embarked upon the dangerous journey to Europe, what happened to them on the way and their hopes for the future. And it will reflect on the reasons why the European policy response has led to a humanitarian and political crisis which threatens not only the lives of refugees and migrants but also the future of the European Union itself.
More information about the event can be found here.