The Mediterranean Sea is still one of the most dangerous places for refugees from Africa and the Middle East who try to reach Europe. In shoddy boats, thousands of people try to get to Spain, Italy or Greece.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recently said that hundreds of African refugees and migrants passing through Libya have been bought and sold in modern-day slave markets before being held for ransom, used as forced labour, or for sexual exploitation.
Debate over dealing with the refugee influx is becoming increasingly bitter in Italy, whose economy is lagging behind its European peers – an increasingly important issue as the country prepares for national elections next year.
More than 101,000 refugee and migrants arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain via the Mediterranean this year, according to the IOM.
In Italy, more than 85,000 people arrived by sea between January and July 3. That is up more than 13,000 people when compared to the same period last year.
In total, at least 2,247 people have died or are missing after trying to cross the sea into Europe, the IOM also said.