Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean - Chapter 16

Over troubled waters: maritime rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean Route

Number of Pages: 
Electronic copy only

In this chapter, we investigate the shifting role played by Italian and European security forces, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy (LCGN) in the conduct of search and rescue (SAR) and border enforcement operations in the Central Mediterranean corridor connecting Libya to Malta and Italy. By doing so, we explore the relationship between the evolution of SAR operations, the number of irregular migrant departures from Libya and fatalities at sea. Our findings suggest that SAR operations conducted by European authorities and NGOs have played an important role in reducing the deadliness of sea crossings without significantly contributing to incentivizing irregular migration.