As a greater number of migrants continue to risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean with hopes of finding a better life in Europe, Italy is beginning to fear the worst as record numbers of refugees (59,880) have already arrived at their shores this year, a figure which, astonishingly, rates almost as high as in the whole of 2011, which holds the record.
An article released in The Guardian two days ago reports on this aggravating phenomenon:
The situation is unprecedented. Sicily, which has received more than 53,000 of the new arrivals, is bearing the brunt and struggling to cope. And summer – historically the peak time for boat landings – has only just begun. “I’m very afraid that in July, August and September, the situation will grow and grow,” says Rosario Valastro, president of the Italian Red Cross in Sicily. “We have some days where we have the navy arriving in three or four different ports at the same time.”
And this is not the only developed country suffering an unprecedented increase in refugee arrivals from high-fertility and war-stricken countries. In 2011-12 Australia reached breaking figures when it received a record of 7,379 “irregular maritime arrivals” and 7036 asylum-seekers by air, marking the first time in its history where illegal arrivals by sea outnumbered migrants arriving in airports.
When the Refugees Convention was established in 1951 there were approximately 1.5 million refugees globally. According to UNHCR, at the end of 2011 an estimated 42.5 million people worldwide were considered forcibly displaced due to conflict and persecution, including 15.2 million refugees, 895,000 asylum seekers, and 26.4 million internally displaced people. Australia received 3 percent of asylum applications made in industralized countries in 2011. Combined, the United States and Canada received 23 percent of asylum applications during 2011, while France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom received 35 percent.
As discussed in our previous article Overpopulation and its discontents this ballooning rise in immigration could be a telescopic look at the future state of affairs in an overpopulated and unsustainable world. The increase of supernumeraries in developing countries does indeed not just affect the quality of life in their own homes, but weeps into the developed world as more and more of them begin to migrate in search of a better future.
Another common bias about overpopulation is the belief that it does not concern the developed countries, or countries which have reached a sub-replacement fertility rate (in most cases: 2,1). So the issue is being perceived either in terms of foreign aid and development (when these supernumeraries stay in their countries), or in terms of (il)legal immigration, commiseration and repression (when they try their luck abroad). But nothing is further from the kernel of truth. Sure thing, in low fertility countries, immigration accounts for most of the population increase, but that’s exactly where the freshly baked cookie crumbles: these nests are already beyond capacity. Good policy starts at home.
And the best policy is prevention. If we allow our global numbers to continue rising, it will no doubt lead us into the entrails of a population crisis which will be impossible to contain not just on a national, but on a planetary level. We are bursting at the seams. The only way forward is to advocate anti-natalist policies in high-fertility countries. Some ideas on possible avenues of action, such as the provision of monetary or tax incentives for limiting the number of children to two and “rising incentives to have only one child” as well as a proposition for “licensing parents” are mentioned in our overpopulation article in Issue #1.