Afghan Refugees Through Mediterranean Sea
Because of the Taliban’s power seizure in Afghanistan, EU expects a humanitarian crisis and a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe. In that case, Afghan refugees will probably use on the three Mediterranean routes to find safety and peace, even with all dangers they can encountered.
People crossing the Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea has been a migratory crossroads for thousands of years, linking people and civilization together.
Nevertheless, the civil war in Syria and the insecurity in Sahel dramatically increased the number of people trying to reach Europe by any means. During their journey, refugees and migrants, two different terms, are victims of human smugglers who push them to cross the sea on small inflatable boats. Many of them died when boat capsizes or because of rough sea and weather conditions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a peak of people crossing the Mediterranean sea happened in October 2015 with 221 721 . In July 2021, 11 449 people were monitored.
Afghani refugees expected to cross the Mediterranean Sea
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, FRONTEX, reported that 747 Afghans crossed Eastern Mediterranean since January 2021.
Because of the Taliban’s rapid seizure of power in Afghanistan, the European Union expect to see more and more Afghan refugees crossing its borders. Joseph Borrel Fontelles, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, declared that EU “has to ensure that the new political situation created in Afghanistan by the return of the Taliban does not lead to a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe”.
Mr Borrel Fontelles added that EU “will have to get in touch with authorities in Kabul, the Taliban, in order to engage in a dialogue as soon as necessary to prevent a humanitarian and a potential migratory disaster, but also a humanitarian crisis”.
Which maritime routes?
There are three main routes to cross the Mediterranean sea: Western, Central and Eastern.
Western route is located between Marocco and Spain, which seems too far to reach for Afghan refugees.
The Central Route, which linked Tunisia and Libya to Italy, is the shortest and the usual route used by refugees and migrants, especially for people from Sahel and Sub-Africa. Nevertheless, it is also the most dangerous. Migrants need to cross Libya, a failed country destroyed by over 10 years of civil war, where armed group and smugglers use them frequently as slaves or fighters. The sailing conditions are also usually bad with rough sea between Sicily and African coast.
Then, the last option remains the Eastern route. It goes from Turkey to Greece and will be probably used by Afghans. It is likely that the European Union will discuss with Turkey once again in order to find an agreement in case of a large-scale migratory movement.