2017 Photo Contest, Spot News, 3rd prize

Mediterranean Migration


Mathieu Willcocks

12 July, 2016

An Eritrean refugee grieves over the death of his brother. He was found dead from asphyxiation in the hold of the boat they were traveling on. Three other bodies were also recovered.

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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