Migrants make tough sea journey to uncertain future in Europe

Hundreds of African migrants plucked from a rubber boat in the Mediterranean continue their strenuous journey aboard a rescue vessel, finally reaching land in Italy where an uncertain future awaits them.

AT SEA (AUGUST 7, 2015) (REUTERS) – Just two days after an estimated 200 migrants were feared to have drowned after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean, some 241 Africans travelling on two rubber boats in the same area of ocean, were rescued by the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) vessel Bourbon Argos.

While the immediate danger was over, their long journey to Europe was far from finished.

Seeking shelter from the sea winds under thermal blankets and shade from the scorching mid-day sun, the migrants continued their sea crossing aboard the Bourbon Argos, its destination the port of Trapani in Western Sicily and beyond it, an uncertain future in Europe.

Passing time while crossing the sea, the migrants prayed, chatted and reflected on their past.

Many said they felt boarding a migrant boat had been the only option to stay safe.

A Nigerian migrant who wished not to be named said he had lost his family and his home.

“I left Nigeria because of the crisis of Boko Haram. People, everybody knows about Boko Haram and their preys. I lost my family, my house was burning to ashes so that is the reason I took a ship to Libya and from Libya I decided to ship to Italy,” he said.

Among the 241 migrants were 35 women, eight children and four unaccompanied minors, Italian media reported.

Finally spotting the Sicilian coastline on Sunday (August 9) morning, many breathed a sigh of relief.

“My name is Emmanuel from Nigeria, I’m so grateful when I’m in Italy,” the young Nigerian man said.

As the ship began docking in port, the migrants were lined up on the deck and prepared for disembarking.

“It was a long trip but you made it,” a rescue worker told a young male migrant as he waited to walk down the gang way. Some of the migrants thanked their rescuers with hugs and handshakes.

The Mediterranean Sea has become the world’s most deadly border area for migrants. More than 2,000 migrants and refugees have died so far this year in attempts to reach Europe by boat, compared with 3,279 deaths during the whole of last year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Many are fleeing poverty and violence in the Middle East and Africa.