Conflict Alerts # 1, 28 July 2019
During late July 2019, in a tragic event, two boats carrying 300 refugees and migrants including children and women, off the coast of Al Khums, Libya, capsized killing more than 150. While Libyan coast guards have recovered bodies off the coast, in an awful gesture, survivors were taken to the Libyan Detention centre that was bombed earlier this month accounting for more than 50 deaths. Reports have also indicated missing immigrants and traumatized survivors from the incident. Although not the first incident of migration along sea lines in the Mediterranean, Filippo Grandi, commissioner of UNHCR has termed this the “worst Mediterranean tragedy of the year’.
Issues at large
Another incident in July 2019, witnessed the death of at least 82 people after a boat carrying immigrants capsized off the Tunisian coast.
This trend indicates the rising influx of migrants to Europe vis-à-vis the Mediterranean. There has been strong resentment from countries like Italy, which are facing the end of the influx. In this case, as uncertain arriving at a solution seems, the pressure on the north of the Mediterranean region must be staved off to avoid negative offsets away from Libya. A dive deeper in this regard also points out to nations returning refugees and migrants to Libya.
The UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization of Migration have advocated against this move and pushed for the resumption of rescue operations to relieve the Libyan burden in this regard. Libyan crisis unfolding since 2011 has witnessed a slew of violent events, consequently resulting in a direct and indirect humanitarian crisis. Political affiliations, military and monetary engagements in this region have aggravated the rift between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord(GNA) led by Fayez-Al-Sarraj and the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar. Turkey’s support to GNA and Haftar’s backing from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, France and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) makes it an uphill task to arriving at political solutions any sooner. The source of the Mediterranean migration crisis could be attributed to this tussle for power.
Tragic incidents like these indicate absolute helplessness of civilians and lack of responsible establishments. Lack of geographical solidarity is a pressing factor that restricts humanitarian relief. Prolonged leadership crisis has already led to the development of stateless citizens. Loss of psychological allegiance to the land and rising anti-sentiments could irk civilians towards seeking conducive environments.
Looking forward, one could safely anticipate the emergence of violent non-state actors, wholly mimicking the rise of Arkan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) which could lead to newer equations of conflict. This establishes a risky precedent for victims of war and violence. The situation in the Mediterranean is a critical reminder of avoiding dreadful consequences. Furthermore, posing as an early indicator, governments and stakeholders should gradually shift focus from conventional narratives of security to regarding substantial prominence in matters of human security.