The Italian Refugee Crisis

By Cobin Szymanski | ITALY

The blue boat oscillates in the incessant waves that continue to bombard the dinghy. The boat is in the center of the expansive Mediterranean sea yearning for the shores of Europe. A light appears in the ominous night giving a beacon of hope to the refugees that crowd the deck. While the lights propinquity continues to increase, the repugnant smell of feces and vomit encompasses the deck. The boat has been at the mercy of the sea for two days and finally has a glimmer of hope.

The Italian boat named Vos Hestia named after a Roman god approaches the craft, sounds of cheers begin to engulf the lower deck. Wave after wave of refugee leaves the wooden ship in rubber dinghies headed for the coast guard ship destined for Italy. At last, all have left the ship and the Italian crews set fire to the craft to prevent it from harboring smugglers once more. The refugees are lifted out of the dinghy and the Italian crew has been bequeathed a break. In the control room somebody murmurs, we rescued over 400 refugees tonight. Vos Hestia turns for the Sicilian coast and leaves the burning boat, fire at sea.

The economies of many West African countries have been in a dilapidated state of repair for many decades. The citizens of these countries have found themselves in increasingly arduous conditions of finding a job or even food and water. This paired with an influx of cheap foreign weapons has lead to myriad militias forming. With a lack of economic stability and facing dangerous conflict, many have made the decisive decision to embark upon a perilous journey to Europe. However, despite that the majority of the migrants originate from Africa many have even journeyed from Pakistan or Syria to have the chance to a new life.

Once in Africa, the future migrants implore their bodies to carry them to Libya. Here they will board a smugglers boat to cross the Mediterranean. When they arrive they are stored in warehouses on the Libyan coast until a human trafficker allots room for them on their ship. The refugees pay anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 dollars to the traffickers, to take them to Europe. While acquiring such sumptuous sum of money is rather difficult it is the mental toll that should be noted. The atrocities and beatings that are occurring at the trafficker’s hands are unfathomable. The human trafficker will then board their clientele on the boat many being submerged below deck to make room for more. The refugees are faced with this naval voyage due to a plethora of reasons but namely, because land routes have been closed over Greece and Turkey. Now, they are at sea for days until they reach land or are rescued.

In recent times, refugees have been flocking to the Italian coast and Rome has been tasked with handling the issue. In fact, as of last year, there have been more than 180,000 recorded arrivals and 5000 recorded deaths. With the influx of refugees and migrants, the roots of Italian civilization have been jarred. The first right Italian political leader has been elected and many have become quite incentive towards the refuges. This year hundreds were evicted from a vacant apartment lot because their gas canisters were a threat to the residential area. They staged a protest and were subsequently beaten by cops. This incident received international condemnation. This only exemplifies the contentious issue that Italy is faced with and the implications of it.

The refugees that have inundated Italy and Europe’s immigration systems are mostly asylum seekers. They are fleeing persecution, war, poverty, and famine in hopes of an auspicious future in Europe. While they wait for their case to be considered by the Italian government they stay in overcrowded red cross camps. It is a large economic burden for Italy to solely handle, and as a result, they have requested help from the European Union. Many countries have already assisted Italy in this humanitarian issue but much more is needed to be accomplished. For example, the conditions at many of the refugee camps are decrepit at best and new camps are needed to be built. The European Union will need to lend help for the continent of Europe is facing this coherently. However, this is an international issue and thus, requires an international solution.

Refugees from Africa and the Middle East journey across the European continent in search of work and a home. However, many are deported from Italy are not given an option to leave. They work menial and laborious jobs to feed their families and themselves. While some received degrees from universities before they departed the legality of working is enigmatic. This contentious issue has extended its expansive reach around the globe. As a result, there needs to be a solution to this issue and humanitarian crisis.

Italy has already begun increasing its naval patrols of the Mediterranean sea, this is intended to save innocent lives. However, once they reach Europe they are in need of work. Many have proposed a solution in which Italy send the refugees to rural towns where there is an excess of work and a lack of people. These traditional communities have accepted this idea despite the traditional values they possess. Whatever the solution is it must benefit both parties and solve the humanitarian crisis many have faced.

The political rhetoric that has been flying across the European news organizations does not demonstrate the epitome of the issue. A Somalian child’s smile is no different than that of Swedish citizens. It is necessary for us to treat them as such. We also need to recognize the humanity that we all possess and the animosity and suffering they have faced while making their journey. For we are all human beings born of the same blood and our final task of compassion needs to be fulfilled.

Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram. “Why Are So Many Young Africans Risking Their Lives to Flee Their Homes?” The Wire, 2017,

Giuffrida, Angela. “Italian PM Attends Talks on Migration after Mass Protest over Rome Eviction.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2017,

HOROWITZ, DECLAN WALSH and JASON. “Italy, Going It Alone, Stalls the Flow of Migrants. But at What Cost?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2017,

Jazeera, Al. “UN Urges Europe to Help Italy with Refugee ‘Tragedy’.” Italy News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Feb. 2017,

Needleman, Deborah. “Who Will Save These Dying Italian Towns?” The New York Times, The New York Times, July 2017,

“Small Arms and Conflict in West Africa.” Human Rights Watch, 2015,

“An Overloaded Boat, Packed with Dreams: Hundreds of Migrants Plucked from a Hazardous Journey across the Mediterranean.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times,

“The Waiting Game: Life in a North Italy Migrant Camp.” BBC News, BBC, 2017,


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.