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For Migrants, A Perilous Journey Across the Mediterranean

06 October 2014

A young Eritrean woman kisses the ground of Augusta port after a sea rescue operation. At least 1,565 people have died at sea or have been reported missing since June. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

MSF has set up a tent clinic at the port of Augusta, providing 24-hour medical care to new arrivals. The urgent cases are taken directly to the hospital. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

Four people died after a boat leaving Libya for Italy sank with 100 people on board. An Italian boat arrived in time to rescue the rest of the people. Only one of the four bodies was retrieved. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

An Eritrean woman sits at transit camp in the Augusta port. She feels safe now that she is in Italy and is looking forward to a new life. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

Syrians take pictures of their journey with the use of smartphone videos and cameras. According to UNHCR figures, more than 50% of refugee migrants are fleeing war and persecution. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

The majority of the medical issues the MSF team sees are related to the journey patients have undertaken, including minor trauma, skin diseases and  respiratory tract infections. Photo: Ikram N'gadi

A young man from Gambia prays inside the transit camp in the port of Augusta, Italy, after he was rescued at sea. So far, more than 130,000 people have travelled by boat from Northern Libya to reach Italy this year. Photo: MSF

One year after 366 people drowned near Lampedusa, Italy, during a desperate attempt to reach Europe, many thousands more have undertaken the same perilous journey. War and protracted crises, including the conflict in Syria and the violence in Libya, have pushed an unprecedented number of people to pay smugglers to help them cross the Mediterranean Sea, their only option to reach Europe. 

The Central Mediterranean route from Northern Libya to Italy may well be the most dangerous. The risk of dying at sea is high, but equally dangerous is the extreme violence often experienced along the way at the hands of illegal traffickers who control and profit from the desperation of those who are willing to risk everything.