Mobile phone footage from a migrant ship that crossed the Mediterranean with hundreds of refugees on board shows how crammed the conditions are on these dangerous journeys.
Thousands of migrants died last year trying to cross the Mediterranean and get to Europe. Many of those who are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for passage on these ships are desperate to flee dangerous situations in their own countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
One such ship carrying as many as 900 people capsized off the coast of Libya last week. Nearly all on board were thought to have drowned. Hundreds of people on the boat were likely locked in the hold of the ship, which allows the smugglers to keep control of the population more easily.
A migrant who travelled on a ship similar to that one sent photos to a reporter for Al Aan TV, an Arabic-language TV network. The migrant was reportedly travelling from Turkey to Italy.
The ship is packed with people:
These stills from the reporter appear to show people in the hold of the ship:
In some shots of the video, a baby can be heard crying.
Italy is now considering targeting smugglers to try to stop the ship tragedies, but an increasingly chaotic environment in Libya is creating lawlessness that allows these traffickers to operate. Smugglers can make tens of thousands of dollars per week on these migrant voyages, The Wall Street Journal notes.
Migrants from several Middle Eastern and north African countries are fleeing major humanitarian crises, making crossing the Mediterranean in an illegal smuggling operation appear no more dangerous than staying in their home countries.
Here’s the full video from the Al Aan TV report:
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