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Dangerous Waters

Increasing numbers of immigrants are risking the treacherous journey to Italy in search of a better life in Europe.

Last updated: 20 Nov 2013 12:56
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Filmmaker: Sherif Salem

More than 8,000 migrants from several countries have landed on the island of Lampedusa in the first nine months of 2013. 

Aiming for a better life in Europe, their first step is the Italian island 260km off the Tunisian coast, in inadequate, overcrowded boats that often come to grief. The migrants often pay agents or employers thousands of euros to make the trip and most, but not all, make the hazardous sea voyage.

There have been over 300 boat incidents so far and over 500 people died in September and October alone. The biggest tragedy occurred on October 3, 2013 when a boat from Misrata in Libya carrying over 350 immigrants from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana sank 120km from the island, leaving 232 people dead. A week later, 30 or more Syrians drowned in another horrific incident.

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For those who make it to Lampedusa, detention awaits them in the island's reception centre.

"When we entered Lampedusa at night, they took our fingerprints and checked all of us, one by one. They asked for our names, nationality and took a photo of everyone," one migrant says.

Life has become more difficult for undocumented migrants in Europe, but immigration to Italy, especially through the island of Lampedusa continues, often at a high human cost.

"People abroad paint a rosy picture of Europe. I work as a nanny. I have been with the same family for a year-and-a-half. They are nice people and they treat me like family. But without legal papers I feel very vulnerable. I'm scared of being stopped by the police," says one Moroccan immigrant.

Despite Europe's own economic problems, the flow of immigrants seems to continue as long as it is seen as offering people the chance of a better life, however hazardous the journey and however difficult the life for those that make it to dry land.

Dangerous Waters looks at the lives of immigrants who are risking their lives in search of a better future. Originally made in 2009, this film updated with recent archive material, explores what happens to those who survived the treacherous boat trip and follows several who successfully made it to Italy four years ago.

 
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