A Spanish army soldier helps a young migrant from Morocco on his arrival in Ceuta.

Mediterranean exodus forces Europe to rethink immigration policy.

Europe Grapples with North African Refugees

October 2011, Number 02.04

“Unlike thousands of other Tunisian migrants crowded onto the rocky Italian island of Lampedusa, Rabah Lajnaf had papers allowing him to live and work legally in the European Union. Why then, would Lajnaf risk a three-day, late-winter voyage in an overcrowded fishing boat, crossing the Mediterranean Sea to land illegally on this remote outpost of Europe?

Displaying his identity documents, Lajnaf explained that his wife Zaineb was pregnant and unable to obtain a visa to join him in France, where he worked. And Tunisia, which had recently undergone a wrenching change of government, no longer felt safe for the couple. “I took a risk and saw death at sea,” Lajnaf told a Euronews video crew in March 2011.

African refugees by the tens of thousands have flooded into Europe, escaping across the Mediterranean from North Africa and generating a refugee crisis that threatens passport-free movement provided by the Schengen agreement. While the Arab Spring brings hope of democratic reform and increased freedoms to the peoples of largely authoritarian North Africa, it has also brought economic upheaval and social unrest, prompting multitudes to brave the dangerous sea-crossing in search of both safety and jobs in Europe...”

Excerpt from per Concordiam Staff, “Europe Grapples with North African Refugees,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 2, No. 4, 2011: 52-55.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.