Migration in the Mediterranean

Migration, the movement of humans from one locality to another, regardless of the distance or period, is an age old phenomena. After the Second World War, especially in the 1960s, Europe saw an increase in migration, as cheap labour from the poorer countries within the Mediterranean region to the more affluent areas was required due to industrialization. The countries in the southern part of the Mediterranean region encouraged such emigration to keep the then unemployment levels at a low, long with gaining ‘hard currency’ and ‘skills through the returning migrants’ (Baldwin-Edwards, 2005).

However, whilst this policy was reversed by the 70s, many of the then settled migrants refused to return to their respective countries, preferring the lifestyles they had gained within the richer region. By 1999, there were still 700,000 Moroccans and 200,000 Tunisians still residing in France (Fargues, 2004: 136). Similarly, contemporary migration in the Mediterranean region is also related to that of migrants flocking to richer countries in the hope of bettering their lives and also higher wages.

Therefore, the trend usually consists of people from southern Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco heading towards the northern region of Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta. Following the establishment of the European Union, those out of the above mentioned countries that became members, became an even bigger target. However, not all migration is through legal and rational means that have been mentioned. The phenomena of human trafficking plays a big part in the modern era of migration within the Mediterranean.

Often the people being brought across consist of women and children and with them being brought over illegally, the governments of the host countries do not records of them. According to Feller, “it would appear that most have left their country of origin for the EU in order to find a job, earn some money, gain new skills and generally improve their prospects in life. But we also know that a proportion of these people come from countries where they are at serious risk of persecution and human rights violations” (2009).

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees automatically protects those who have fled their home countries out of danger for their own lives and therefore such people would get asylum in most countries within the Mediterranean region. However, the same can not be said for the other who enter the countries illegally. Comparisons can be made between the migration histories of the people from the Mediterranean region to those of the Indian sub-continent who migrated to the UK within the 60s. They too were able to do as freely as a result of the sub-continent being part of the British common-wealth and therefore a colony of the UK.

During that era, cheap labour was needed within Britain and as a result Indians and Pakistanis flocked to the UK, taking up menial blue-collar jobs that proved beneath the then British people. The Indians who settled here quickly realised how many benefits they could reap from taking up residence in such a powerful country, and the menial labour became a small price to pay. The British currency provided them with the ability to not only live a basic yet comfortable life here, but also fund the family they had left behind in their homeland.

Along with that, they were able to school their children within the English educational system, which would have otherwise been impossible for them at ‘home’.

References

Baldwin-Edwards, M. Migration in the Middle East and Mediterranean, (2005), http://www. mmo. gr/pdf/news/Migration_in_the_Middle_East_and_Mediterranean. pdf Retrieved 26/01/09 Feller, E. Mediterranean migration: a comprehensive response http://www. icmc. net/pdf/med_migration. pdf Retrieved 26/01/09 (Un)Freedom of Movement: Migration Issues in Europe 2004/07/08 http://www. eumap. org/journal/features/2004/migration Retrieved 26/01/09