Migration in the Mediterranean Essay Sample

Migration in the Mediterranean

The process of human migration occurs when people move from one location to another while intending to settle either permanently or temporarily on the new territory. It can be either internal, which entails movement of people within the territorial boundaries of one country, or international one, representing a movement across national borders. People migrate individually, as a family or in large groups. The theories that try to explain why the migration occurs are; neo-the classical economic theory, the dual market theory, the relative deprivation theory, the new economics of labor migration, and the world systems theory (Hanlon & Vicino 2014). The Mediterranean region has experienced a large-scale migration problem whereby refugees as well as economic migrants from the Northern African countries, the Middle East, and South Asia, flocked the European continent mainly across the Mediterranean Sea (Martell 2010). The sea is therefore regarded as the most dangerous border crossing point due to the travel by overloaded boats that capsize in the middle of the sea, drowning thousands of people along the way (Martell 2010). The European countries respond to the influx of immigrants in various ways by blocking the borders, arresting and taking them into custody as well as deporting individuals. However, in some instances, the states grant asylum to the refugees (Martell 2010). Migration is a complex issue as it may be voluntary or it be induced by circumstances that seem unfavorable to the emigrants. The process has both negative and positive impacts on both the host and the mother country and, thus, the essay seeks to examine the concerns of the trend mainly in the Mediterranean region.

The Impacts of Migration

Emigration lowers the population of the mother state, consequently reducing the workforce size. The impact is especially beneficial for the developing countries as it reduces the unemployment level, because the shortage of employment opportunities leads the educated to search for jobs abroad (Martell 2010). It also alleviates the economic consequences of unemployment, and these are conflicts and the cost of supporting the unemployed. The movement of people overseas in search of employment leads to the increase in remittance and thus benefitting the economies of the mother country (Martell 2010). However, in the case of Mediterranean countries, the benefit is can only occur if the emigrants are motivated by economic pressure as opposed to the state of war.

Economic emigration is harmful to the mother states as it leads to the loss of skilled labor especially in developing or the war-torn countries. For instance, doctors and medical staff leave Africa to seek for greener pastures abroad. Although, if the emigration is temporal, the mother country stands to benefit from remittance as well as importation of skills from overseas (Martell 2010). Significantly though, in the case of countries in the Mediterranean Africa, such as Nigeria and Libya, chances of the emigrating professionals coming back are slim due to the political turbulence.

The mother countries in the Mediterranean region suffer enormous losses of human lives, with thousands dying in the process of migration. A good example can be seen on the route that connects Libya and other African countries to Italy, where many overloaded boats capsize killing huge numbers of people. For instance, in 2015 alone, about 2,000 sailing to Italy from Libya, Eritrea and Nigeria drowned in the sea between January and September (Martell 2010) and thus is one of the reasons the sea is regarded as the most dangerous migratory route in the Mediterranean region.

The issue of migration leads to a constitutional crisis in the European countries such as Greece and Italy in terms of proper handling of the refugees’ influx (Martell 2010). For instance, some states react by blocking their borders, arrest and detention as well as deportation but in some cases, they offer asylum to the refugees. The European Union's Dublin regulation places the responsibility of catering for the refugees to their first country of arrival, and this seems to put the burden on the countries near the sea as opposed to the whole European Union (Martell 2010). There are also numerous detention centers facing charges of neglect and abuse in their respective states, bringing about a constitutional crisis.

Many developed countries, mainly in Europe, have demographic problems such as the shortage of the workforce, characterized by a large population of elderly people, which increases the burden of healthcare and pension plans (Martell 2010). The immigration of skilled people boosts the working population’s size and increases the tax revenue thus alleviating the problem mentioned above. Additionally, the immigrants help to expand the economy through the provision of labor and skills as well as promoting business in their expenditure.  

The Push Factors for Migration

Political instabilities and civil wars in Africa, Middle East, and South Asia have fuelled a rise in the number of people emigrating their respective countries. For instance, in 2011, Tunisians flocked Italy in thousands, following the outbreak of the Arab Spring (Park 2015). The Africans from the Sub-Saharan region who had immigrated to Libya also fled the country due to the violence after the fall of Gaddafi, mainly targeting Europe as their destination. The Syrian Civil War that killed over 200,000 people as well as displaced some 4 million, provoking massive migration (Park 2015). Afghanistan nationals also left the country in search of help from the insurgency of the Taliban rebels, while Eritreans fled an abusive regime that subjected them to forced labor. 

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Poverty is a yet another factor that ejected people out of their countries to search for better places. High rates of unemployment and low wages in countries like Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan and Sudan among others led to reduced living standards so thatthe locals had no option other than moving out of their mother countries in pursuit of greener pastures (Park 2015). The majority of them considered relocating to Europe, ultimatley causing the migration crisis in the Mediterranean region, as it is the gateway to the continent.

Changes in expectations was another push factor that forces people to migrate out of their second homes. For instance, when people migrate to another country they go with confidence that lives will be better, but when things turn the other way, they have no option other than moving further. For example, the Syrian refugees flocked Lebanon after war broke out, yet they never received proper assistance in their second home (van Kesteren 2015). When other Syrians took refuge in Egypt, they were attacked under allegations of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. When Sub-Sahara Africans immigrated Libya, the land became inhabitable for them due to the fall of Gaddafi (Park 2015). All these immigrants had to move out of their second homes, and the next destination was Europe.

Pull Factors

Cultural linkage and proximity between countries are one of the major the motivating factors for people to immigrate countries in the Mediterranean region. For instance, the Syrian refugees first relocated to Lebanon that is a Muslim country bordering their home but the poor state of socio-economic conditions in the new destination forced them to migrate further into Europe (van Kesteren 2015). The same reason pulled some of the Syrian refugees to Egypt, but when things got worse there, they had to vacate one more time. For Libyans, Italy was the nearest country across the sea, becoming their preferred destination.

The level of economic development in the European countries is high, and this is characterized by industrialization and high wages, and high-quality social services among others. Such a situation serves as a motivating factor for the people to the Mediterranean countries such as in North Africa, and Asia to immigrate there in pursuit of greener pastures (Martell 2010). The development encourages the educated to seek avenues of immigrating the home states in search of jobs even through illegal means.

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The European Union is a bloc of countries that are very peaceful, which is a result of the democratic nature of politics as well as monarchies that are respected by the people. On the contrary, the neighboring countries such as in North Africa are turbulent as they have histories of armed revolutions as well as civil wars (Martell 2010). Every refugee desires a peaceful environment, which is one of the reasons why the displaced people from these countries seek refuge in the European continent.


In conclusion, the Mediterranean countries experience mixed migration as people relocate as either refugees or job seekers. The issue of migration has both negative and positive consequences for the mother as well as the host country, but the benefits arise only when the migrants are seeking for a job rather than an asylum. Some of the push factors that promotes migration in the region are; war and political instabilities, poverty, and unemployment, and the changing expectations of the second home. Among the pull factors are: cultural linkages and nearness, serenity in the European countries, and economic development. The migration trends in the Mediterranean region are undesirable, as a majority of the migrants move due to war, provoking making a dangerous ride across the Mediterranean Sea, during which thousands of people die.

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