Search-and-Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean: Are they a ‘pull factor’ for sea crossings of migrants?

Recently, academic research has started to collect and analyse systematic data about the impact of SAR operations on sea crossings – with diverging results. In particular, the papers Migration at SeaUnintended Consequences of Search and Rescue Operations by Deiana, Dehesri and Mastrobuoni (2019) and Sea Rescue NGOs? A Pull Factor of Irregular Migration? by Cusumano and Villa (2019) reach quite opposite conclusions: the former that SAR operations unintendedly boost migrant smuggling, the latter that they do not affect it. In this bog post, Ettore Recchi and Mauro Lanati briefly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the two studies.