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Humanitarian crisis at sea

Story by Daphne Channa Horn December 13th, 2016

do not let them drown

It‘s an incredible number. Nearly 60 million people in the world have been uprooted by war and persecution. Especially in Africa and the Middle East refugees leave their homes in search of a better life in another country, for example in Europe. This year 2015, more than 153.000 people ventured the crossing from Africa to Europe often in overcrowded boats across the Mediterranean. With around 2892 migrants died this year via Central Route in2015, a humanitarian emergency.

Luigi Dattilo (patrol vessel Italian coast guard) with 450+ boat people // Pozzallo Sicily
A red cross worker in protective suit.
Luigi Dattilo (patrol vessel Italian coast guard) with 450+ boat people // Pozzallo Sicily
A rescued refugee holds a wrist band for the Forensic Police Regional Cabinet // Pozzallo Sicily

Surveys among boat people show that most of them fleeing poverty, war, violence, torture and mistreatment. Many young refugees,minors, ending up in drug trafficking and prostitution for example in Rome. The money they earn is sent home to support the family. In the south of Italy are many refugees illegally into agriculture. They earn almost nothing and live in appalling conditions. According to the stories they operated, they have no more than a hole to defecate in and have it look worse than in Africa.

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MOAS, holds 372 people, upperdeck 184 men, watching the disembarking, 7th june 2015, Augusta

Before the boat people may leave the Phoenix in Augusta, much has already happened. It all starts at the moment when they are picked up at sea. When taking aboard the refugees, put Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) special rubber boats (RHIB’s) in which are driven by powerful outboard engines. The rubber boats approach the boats, which includes refugees, aware from behind to prevent the passengers move suddenly and uncontrollably in panic to one side. The boat may capsize. Immediately asked if there is someone on board who speaks English. This person, who gets a role as interpreter, gives the others in the boat then instructions to remain calm, when the rescue operation is underway. Second is asked whether sick, injured people are on board. MOAS saved 9313 live so far in 1,5 years.

Saved Eritrean refugees, MOAS, 7th june 2015, Augusta
The boat graveyard, Pozzallo, Sicily
Refugees awaitng legal status in Cara di Mineo, Sicily.

The largest refugee camp in Europe, Cara di Mineo middle of Sicily, with more than 4,000 people. The inhabitants are located here on an old American military base. Far outside the camp I‘ll bike to the first. Soldiers guard the camp around and can not be photographed. They follow me closely in a jeep if I walk around the camp. On everything I ask, I get a no. The events surrounding the camp is rather sensitive because in Italy from Rome just a judicial investigation has been launched into corruption and mafia practices around the flows of refugees here.

Cara di Mineo, Sicily
Cara di Mineo, Sicily
Footnote: Sicily, Italy, Refugees, Asylum, MOAS, Europe, Photography, Humanitarian crisis, Daphne Channa Horn
Mediterranean Sea