2017 Photo Contest, Spot News, 3rd prize

Mediterranean Migration


Mathieu Willcocks

31 July, 2016

A doctor working with an Italian NGO sits moments after pronouncing an Eritrean man dead. The man had been pulled, unconscious, from the engine compartment of a large wooden boat in which he and approximately 400 other refugees were attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Twenty minutes of CPR and multiple shots of adrenaline failed to revive him.

Conflict, persecution, political instability and poverty in parts of Africa and the Middle East continued to compel people to make dangerous sea crossings to seek a better life in Europe. Following a migration deal between the EU and Turkey, the numbers of refugees crossing the Aegean to Greece dropped, but arrivals in Italy, across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa, went up sharply. According to the UNHCR, 181,436 people made that crossing in 2016, an 18 percent increase on 2015. Refugees are frequently crammed into unseaworthy craft, often without lifejackets or sufficient food, water or fuel. Many do not survive the three-day journey to Italy. Rescue vessels operated by NGOs and charities patrol international waters off the north Libyan coast to assist people in distress.

About the photographer

Mathieu Willcocks

He started in photography after an internship at the VII Photo Agency in Paris in 2012, during which he started shooting assignments for The New York Times. He obtained a MA in p...

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