Destination Europe? Understanding the dynamics and drivers of Mediterranean migration in 2015

Heaven Crawley, Simon McMahon, Katharine Jones, Franck Duvell, Nando Sigona

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    Politicians and policymakers across Europe have largely talked about the arrival of refugees and migrants in 2015 as an unprecedented ‘event’, a single coherent flow of people that came ‘from nowhere’, suddenly and unexpectedly pressing against the continent’s southern border.

    There has been little or no interest in the ‘back stories’ of those arriving; instead the gap between someone leaving their home country and his or her or arrival in Europe has been filled with generalisations and assumptions. We are now several years into the ‘crisis’ and there is still no sign of a coherent long-term response.

    Understanding the dynamics of migration to Europe and why some people might decide to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean remains a pressing concern.

    The total number of people recorded as dead or missing in the Mediterranean in 2016 is higher than the total for 2015. Since the beginning of 2016 the rates of death have increased from 1 in 54 to 1 in 46 people among those crossing via the Central Mediterranean route and from 1 death in every 1,063 arrivals to 1 death in every 409 arrivals via the Eastern Mediterranean route.

    Both the reception infrastructure and the asylum system in Greece have failed to adapt to the needs of the refugees and migrants. This is partly a Greek failure but it is also a failure of the EU. Meanwhile escalating conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq continue to displace hundreds of thousands of people from their homes every day.

    And the assault on Mosul (Iraq) which began in mid-October 2016 is expected to displace 1.5 million people, many of whom are likely to cross the border into Eastern Turkey just a few hours away.

    Our final report of the ESRC-funded MEDMIG project shines new light on the dynamics of migration to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea drawing on a rich dataset from the first large-scale, systematic and comparative study of the backgrounds, experiences, routes and aspirations of refugees and migrants in three EU Member States – Italy, Greece and Malta – and Turkey.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationCoventry
    PublisherCentre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University
    Number of pages83
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


    • Europe
    • migration
    • refugees
    • borders
    • crisis
    • politics
    • policy
    • decision making
    • Journey experience

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations
    • Geography, Planning and Development


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