Investigating border-related deaths in the Mediterranean: migrant fatalities as collateral damage of European border control policies
During the last two decades, a mix of images, opinions, facts and personal statements on the greatest migratory flow the Mediterranean has ever experienced have been broadcast all over the world. Contradictory information has been indiscriminately spread by media, politicians and scholars on the people taking a one-way ticket across the sea in search of a better future. In response to their arrival, new and tougher regulations have been imposed, both by the EU and individual Member states. In this context, where economic interests and fundamental rights have been invoked to tell the two sides of the story, little has been said about the supposed relationship between the enforcement of European border control policies and the large number of fatalities that occur at sea on these journeys. The aim of this thesis is threefold. Firstly, after an introductory discourse on the background context and key word definitions, I present a historical overview of the frontier strategies implemented by European states during the last twenty years with the intent to create the grounds of my study. Secondly, I examine the link between these measures and the high number of migrant casualties in the Mediterranean in order to test the assumption whereby border control policies do not actually deter migrants from migrating because they create new and more hazardous routes that ultimately lead to more deaths at sea. Thirdly, I discuss major counterarguments to, and critics at, the aforementioned hypothesis. These include the idea that numerous other variables influence immigration in the Mediterranean, the theory whereby collateral damage of EU border regulations is allowed as long as the regulations combat smugglers’ networks and irregular migration, and the view that considers humanitarianism a pull factor for undocumented migrants.