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Italy launches campaign to warn migrants of risks

July 28, 2016

Migrants have voiced the horrors of their trip across the Mediterranean in a new media campaign by Italy. Women and children are most vulnerable during the perilous journey, said IOM's Mediterranean director.

A female migrants after arriving in Italy
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Janssen

In partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Italian government on Thursday launched a media campaign on television, radio and social media platforms to dissuade African migrants attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

Would-be migrants between the ages of 18 and 35 in 15 different countries in North and West Africa are the target of the campaign, which pulls together testimonies from those who have made the trip.

In one video, a woman recounts narrowly escaping an anal rape attack, while a man describes being unable to protect his wife and child against Libyan smugglers.

The "Migrants Aware" campaign features content in English, Arabic and French, and cost a total of 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) to execute.

'Aware of the risks'

At a press event for the campaign, Federico Soda, IOM's Mediterranean director, told reporters in Rome that woman and children suffer the most during the trip.

"Some experience things so awful and so terrible that we cannot even imagine. It is understandable that they do not want to re-live them recounting them and do everything possible to block them off," Soda said.

"Women are abused and raped, and often they arrive pregnant. Children are beaten and often traumatized when they arrive. We want them to be aware of the risks," he added.

Since January, over 90,000 migrants have arrived in Italy, while 3,000 people who attempted the perilous trip died at sea.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said economic migrants comprised 60 percent of last year's 154,000 arrivals, noting that Italy and the rest of the EU "cannot welcome everybody."

EU countries must speed up the repatriation of migrants with no legal residency rights, Alfano said, adding that otherwise the bloc's migrations policies will "collapse."

ls/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)