“S is 31 years old. He arrived in Italy a little over a month ago, having made an exhausting journey on foot from Pakistan to Milan, via the Balkan route. To make the journey even harder, one of his feet was horribly broken and went untreated.
While we debate about how NGO ships should stay away from the Libyan coast, or what the maximum number of people that can be accommodated in Italy is, all we see is people who need help and who are fleeing so they can make sure they can access their fundamental right as human being: the right to life.
In June, we witnessed the landing of over 2000 migrants at the port of Augusta: these numbers and the things our staff see every day confirm that the Mediterranean is still the number one channel for those fleeing from war and poverty towards Europe.
They come from Iraq, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea. Among them, there were 140 children and teenagers, some of whom had run away themselves, crossed the Mediterranean Sea without parents or relatives accompanying them.
Our staff carried out over 130 examinations of people exhausted from travel and difficult circumstances. The cases of violence sustained in Libya are unquantifiable: a child burned with boiling water, a man whose finger had been cut off, raped women.
We were able to organise a visit for infectious diseases and get treatment for a boy with HIV, who hadn’t taken any medication for a month. We were busy contacting the partners and husbands of some hospitalised pregnant women who were asking for news on the birth of their children. We worked day and night to provide each of them with the care they needed.