GWEN IFILL: And joining me now for more on the deadly journeys that thousands are taking, and the European community's response, is Daryl Grisgraber, senior advocate at Refugees International for the Middle East and Africa.
Thank you for joining us.
It seems there are two big questions here. Why do the migrants come, and what do you do about them once they get on their way? Let's start with the first part. Why are they coming?
DARYL GRISGRABER, Refugees International: There are a number of reasons that people leave their countries of origin, of course, conflict, poverty, persecution.
So, in a lot of Africa and particularly in the Middle East, you will find people who are fleeing these particular issues. Many of them end up on the north coast of Africa and do migration by sea when land routes are not as easily available to them. What to do about them is a much more complicated issue.
GWEN IFILL: I want to go back a little bit about who these people are.
DARYL GRISGRABER: Sure.
GWEN IFILL: Because they're not Libyans necessarily, and they're not from any one place.
DARYL GRISGRABER: No, not at all.
We have seen Syrians making their way from Egypt into Libya to try to make the sea crossing. They're people coming from the Horn of Africa fleeing human rights violations who end up there as well, people from sub-Saharan Africa. People are coming from anywhere that they can find a migration route that is open. And often when they end up on the north coast of Africa, they are getting on these boats.
GWEN IFILL: Yes. And is it fair to say that we are seeing this increase in numbers, this stunning increase in numbers because of the weather? Because of what?
DARYL GRISGRABER: Well, the weather is — this is considered the sailing season right now, so the weather is a little bit calmer, the waters are slightly easier to deal with.
But I think what we're looking at is what's happening in the countries that people are fleeing from. Human rights violations are a daily occurrence for many people in many places, again, in this part of the world. Conflict in Syria, for example, is driving people out. And there are some Libyans joining as well. Libya is kind of in chaos right now.
So people are coming from all over, but they're are all fleeing situations that are making them desperate. And they feel like they need to be elsewhere.
GWEN IFILL: What about the ones who land, the ones who don't drown on route? Is it possible — where do they end up, where do they end go?
DARYL GRISGRABER: It depends where they are.
Many of them end up in detention. And there are definitely efforts by European countries to send them back. A lot of them have dreams of moving on further to join family members, often in Scandinavia, for example, or in Western Europe. A lot of them are not getting there, and many of them languish in, for example, transit centers along the coast of the European countries because they're not allowed in.
GWEN IFILL: Well, then let's talk about the second hard part, as you identified, what do you do about it. Today, we saw the meeting among the European Union countries in which they're beginning to make common cause?
DARYL GRISGRABER: There is — yes, there's a move toward that.
And I think it will be a little bit of a question how quickly that can be done and how thorough the response can be. The common cause, unfortunately, might not focus as much on humanitarian and lifesaving activities, as it does on deterrence at the border and creating a secure area. So — sorry. Go ahead.
GWEN IFILL: No, I was going to ask you to explain — expand on that a little bit. When you say deterrence, what do you mean? Here, we talk about building fences. What are they talking about?
DARYL GRISGRABER: Yes, well, in many ways, it's the same thing, not building a fence, but, for example, not making people think that if they get on a boat that is unsafe and it starts to sink, that they are going to be rescued by someone in those European countries, for example.
Search and rescue missions were very much at the heart of the operation that was going on in the Mediterranean for a lot of last year and some of 2013. The new operation that has taken it over and it's not as comprehensive geographically and certainly doesn't have the same amount of funding is much more about deterrence and keeping people away from the borders, trying to avoid having people arrive in the first place.
GWEN IFILL: Trying to stop people from getting on the boats or getting off the boats?
DARYL GRISGRABER: Getting off the boats mostly.
But it would be useful in some ways to create situations where people feel like they don't need to get on the boats as well.
GWEN IFILL: And that's the more complicated part of this.
DARYL GRISGRABER: It certainly is, yes.
GWEN IFILL: Daryl Grisgraber of Refugees International, thank you very much.
DARYL GRISGRABER: Thank you.