Smugglers are not the cause of migration; they are the consequences of the EU’s expanding border surveillance regime. The EU should concentrate on saving migrants from this regime.
Migrant deaths systemic in the Mediterranean continue, with this one accident causing more than 800 deaths, 1,600 since the start of 2015. The end of Italy’s Mare Nostrum Search-and-Rescue Operation in November 2014 played a role in the rising death toll. Mare Nostrum was replaced by Frontex-led Triton, which is a lesser scale operation that prioritizes border control over search-and-rescue.
However, migrant deaths in the Mediterranean are not only explained by the absence of military-humanitarian operations. A broader look at the shifting migration routes towards the EU demonstrates that it is as a result of increasing surveillance that migrants die.
Surveillance has forced migrants to find riskier routes for making the crossing. The more surveillance has intensified the more migrants have felt the brutal reality of European borders. Many have died in the process. What we need, rather than this type of humanitarianism is a human rights approach to curb surveillance.