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The very human consequences of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean Sea have dominated recent headlines, as the number attempting the treacherous crossing from Africa to Europe has significantly increased in tandem with the minor improvement in conditions at sea. The question of how to tackle this problem has also featured prominently on the EU agenda, given that its current border-patrol mission, Operation Triton, was not designed to respond to the humanitarian challenges posed by the phenomenon. In this article, Alessio Patalano considers the lessons that can be drawn from Triton’s predecessor, Operation Mare Nostrum, a year-long effort led by the Italian navy to rescue migrants, which came to an end in October 2014.
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