Between the Libyan and Sicilian coasts, there is a distance of 300 miles and the common story is that poor, belabored migrants make this dangerous crossing in an effort to reach either safety or a better life but tragically fail. The only problem is this isn’t actually true. Last year, more than 180,000 people were registered as entering Europe by this method. But out of that 180,000, how many do you think made the 300 mile journey? Zero. Not a single one.
The reality is that the boats make it just 12 miles from the Libyan coast and send out a distress signal. In rush the NGOs and the EU vessels to pick them up. The Laws state that they should rightly be taken to the nearest port, for example Tunisia or back to Libya, but no, they are taken to Europe and the process of citizenship begins.
Aid agencies put out the image of intrepid seafarers risking life and limb to make the crossing in a desperate attempt to escape the danger or crushing poverty. Government figures put the cost of tickets (paid to the people traffickers) at around 1500 Euros; quite expensive for a 12 mile boat trip you might think. But the cost is not only for the 12 miles, the traffickers arrange with NGOs where the boat will become “distressed” and where they can be picked up; it’s an all-inclusive fee.