The port of Augusta, on Sicily’s eastern coast, has witnessed an influx of African migrants – mainly from Libya. Europe Editor Matt Frei reports from what is now the worlds deadliest frontier.
There is a white cargo ship that stands out in Augusta’s harbour – one that symbolises a very miserable but modern migration.
It is carrying a wretched human cargo of 592 migrants. 50 of them are women, one is a child. All of them are from west Africa.
The passengers on the boat are the haul of several rescue missions to six different boats, all of which had been on the verge of sinking after sailing from Libya.
Not so long ago, many of them would have stayed in Libya. But the civil war there has made it impossible for them to stay. So they come to Europe.
The Mediterranean is now the deadliest frontier in the world. 400 drowned at sea a few days ago. Last year alone, almost 4,000 died in these waters.
What was once an act of basic humanity – the operation to rescue migrants at sea – has now become poisoned by national politics all over Europe. And migration is a dirty word in Italy, too.
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On the shores with the thousands dying to reach Europe
Is UK letting migrants drown as they cross the Med?
The Mediterranean’s deadliest migration sea routes