Anthropologist Hans Lucht discusses the precarious lives of modern-day Mediterranean migrants from Africa who embark in North Africa for Italy in an op-ed in the New York Times.
Lucht points out that southern European nations have long worked with Qaddafi’s regime in Libya to control trans-Mediterranean migration, at the cost of often-barbarous human smuggling practices. Such policies have often been sustained by racist anti-immigrant sentiment in countries like France and Italy.
The social disruption of the Libyan Civil War now promises to create new forms of trans-Mediterranean migration as Libyans flee as refugees. Other Africans will presumably seek new pathways of migration toward Europe, avoiding the chaos of Libya.
Lucht argues that “Europe should learn from the situation in Libya that paying dictators to make ‘problems’ disappear is not only morally bankrupt but also short-sighted.”
Clearly, a more open discussion of migration, citizenship, and human rights is needed in the Mediterranean.