In an interview in today’s Deutsche Welle, Alexander Betts addresses some of the key points of the current crisis in the Mediterranean. He highlights the global context behind the crisis, with over 50 million people displaced around the world (including 9 million Syrians), stating that “with more and more displaced people…, with the declining willingness of host states to protect and assist those people, and with inadequate responsibility-sharing by the international community, there will be a global displacement crisis”.
Addressing the issue of human smuggling, he emphasizes that the current movement of people is not caused by smugglers; rather the smugglers are “a symptom of the desperation and vulnerability of many people, including refugees…” Expanding on this he notes that “what is really significant in the current movements is that a growing proportion appear to be refugees coming from countries in which they have no alternative but to leave for political reasons.”
The interview concludes on the question of what the EU needs to do to address the crisis. Professor Betts states that, yes, the EU needs to dramatically improve its search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean, but moreover, he argues, “we need to be creative and rethink the way in which on a global scale we engage in international cooperation to improve protection and assistance for an inevitably growing number of refugees and displaced people around the world”.