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In recent years, the number of migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea has increased significantly. The increase has been prominent on routes from North Africa to Italy and Malta, with migration along this route increasing from 40,000 in 2013 to 170,000 in 2014. The passage across the Mediterranean is very dangerous, particularly given that migrants are often trafficked by people smugglers in unseaworthy boats and in rough seas, and 3,279 migrants died attempting to make the crossing in 2014. Commentators have attributed the surge in migration to developments in the Middle East and Africa, especially the Syrian and Libyan civil wars. This note explores these issues, and the cancellation of Italy’s Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation, and the creation of its EU-backed replacement, Operation Triton. It also considers recent proposals for the relocation and resettlement of migrants and refugees in EU countries. 

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