More people than ever are drowning when crossing the Mediterranean. While some travel looking for jobs, many are fleeing war and oppression. Many are “ambitious, urban and educated.” Almost all are paying exorbitant fees to illegal traffickers, and paying dearly with their lives. This in spite of the fact that commercial flights are readily available, cheaper and infinitely less risky
So, what exactly stops refugees from flying to Europe to apply for asylum?
In another brilliant Gapminder video, Hans Rosling gets to the heart of the matter. Citing EU Directive 2001/51/EC, Rosling notes that airline staff have effectively been enlisted to “combat illegal migration” through their power to deny travellers without proper documentation access to commercial flights — even though the Directive explicitly states “it is without prejudice to the obligations resulting from the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.” To do so would saddle the airline with the cost of the returned migrant.
Could it be that this Directive, asks Rosling, “is the reason for so many refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea?”
It seems the burden of determining the need for protection has been downloaded to the staff at the check-in counter.
Video originally published on Apr 22, 2015, Gapminder Foundation: Why Boat Refugees Don’t Fly! – Factpod #16