Will Europe make migrant crisis worse?

Story highlights

  • Hundreds feared dead after ship carrying migrants capsized
  • Bill Frelick: Current surge in migrants was predictable

Bill Frelick is refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)"Tragic developments" was the apt description by the European Commission of what may prove to be the largest maritime disaster the Mediterranean has seen. But while European officials have been quick with sympathetic words following the capsizing on Saturday of a ship that may have claimed some 800 lives -- it has been much too slow in addressing the entirely predictable surge in boat departures that formed the backdrop to this tragedy.

The reality is that as early as last November -- almost six months ago -- drivers of migration in refugee-producing countries, such as conflict, human rights abuse, endemic poverty, were picking up steam. This was occurring even as the chaos in the main country of embarkation, Libya, continued.
    It was also clear that a dearth of safe and orderly mechanisms for asylum seekers to access EU territory, and a lack of effective protection across vast stretches of the Middle East and North Africa, would mean continuing -- if not escalating -- irregular bo