Poverty, persecution and conflict are among the reasons refugees were forced to flee their homelands.
By the time they were rescued from sinking boats on the Mediterranean Sea, they had another more urgent motive: escape from Libya.
Endalkachew Gebrehiwot, a refugee, told Al Jazeera that during the 10 months he was in Libya, human smugglers had kidnapped him twice.
Unable to pay a $4,500 ransom, he said the smugglers forced him to work and whipped him every day with electrical cable.
"It is the will of God, that I survived. You don't expect to survive that concentration camp," he said.
Kim Clausen, from the Doctors Without Borders organisation, described the conditions in Libya as "horrible".
"Right now, [what's] going on in Libya, it's what we'd call slave trading, it's forced prostitution, mass rapes. It's torture. It's kidnapping for ransom by the smugglers and they sell the refugees."
Endalkachew said the situation was so bad, he would rather "die at sea" than remain in Libya.
Source: Al Jazeera