Before it’s too late - A story of a Mediterranean Migration
The central Mediterranean migration route, between Libya and Italy’s coasts, has always been busy. 2016 was the worst year on record.
According to reports by the UNHCR over 173.000 people arrived on Italian soil, a 20% increase from 2015. Unfortunately, the dead and missing also increased in number to 4500.
War, persecution, political instability and poverty on the African continent in Asia or the Middle East still continue to push these people to undertake this extremely dangerous journey.
NGOs and charities such as MOAS, on who’s ship this project was shot from, continue their efforts to patrol the patch of sea north of the Libyan coasts in the hope of rescuing migrants before it is too late.
Crammed in unseaworthy vessels, migrants are often deceived by their smugglers and realise only too late that the promises of a skipper, life jackets, food and water and sufficient fuel were nothing but lies. In most cases, migrants do not stand a chance to make the three day journey to Italy. They have a mere 6 hours before it is too late.
Mathieu Willcocks is a freelance photographer who recently moved to Scotland from Myanmar. Since graduating from the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication in 2014, Mathieu has worked extensively in South East Asia, covering mainly Myanmar, Thailand and Hong Kong. Mathieu also attended the XXVI Eddie Adams Workshop. He started his career whilst interning at the VII Photo agency in Paris in 2012. During that summer, he shot his first assignments for The New York Times. Mathieu's work has been published in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, L'Espresso, Al Jazeera, CNN.com, Mashable and the Sunday Times.
During the summer of 2016, Mathieu was the embedded photographer onboard the Topaz Responder, one of MOAS’ (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) rescue ships in the Mediterranean, from which he had exclusive access to photographing the migrants' struggle to reach Europe from Libya. His work in the mediterranean sea earned him a World Press Photo Award in 2017 as well as the LensCulture Emerging Photographer Award.