TIME Behind the Photos

How Photographers Are Trying to Put a Face on Europe’s Migrant Crisis

"I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person”

European leaders are grappling with what’s being called one of the worst migrant and refugee crises in two generations. On Thursday, in a hastily formed summit in Brussels called after an estimated 800 people died in a capsizing off Libya while en route to Europe, leaders pledged new support to cap the rising death toll in the Mediterranean. But aid organizations and humanitarian officials said Europe is still “lagging far behind” of what’s realistically needed to ease the tragedy.

The crisis along the Mediterranean’s coastlines, from Libya to Morocco and Greece to Italy, is not new. Photographers have worked over the last decade to raise awareness as conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have displaced millions. Last June, one image crystallized the scale of this movement. Shot by Italian photographer Massimo Sestini aboard a helicopter taking part in Mare Nostrum, an Italian-led search and rescue operation largely funded by the European Union and abandoned late last year, it showed one boat with hundreds of people looking up, waving their arms. “You could see their desperation,” Sestini said last year. “And, concurrently, their happiness at being saved.”

The photograph, which TIME named one of the top 10 images of 2014, went on to win a World Press Photo award, but it told only one part of a much larger story.

“The only way to really tell the story is to spend time with them in their home countries, see how they live, learn why they leave and then just go with them on their way,” says Daniel Etter, a German photographer, who has documented migrants in northern Africa and across Europe. He called that “almost impossible” to do. Security risks, travel obstacles and financial barriers get in the way, leaving most photographers unable to build the kind of all-encompassing narrative that could help people understand the true nature of the crisis.

Some photographers have attempted to piece together the stories of migrants who risk their lives on these journeys. Alixandra Fazzina, a photographer with Noor, followed Somali migrants’ arduous trip across the Gulf of Aden in search of a better future in her book A Million Shillings, published in 2010. One in 20 who attempted the crossing lost their lives, their bodies washing up on Yemen’s shore.

She wanted to go deeper, she says, than the “small paragraph you find in a newspaper detailing the number of people that have died… I wanted to find out why they were making the journey. I wanted to find out why these people were willing to put their lives into the hands of smugglers and traffickers? Why would somebody do that?”

Olivier Jobard, a French photographer who followed a Cameroonian man’s trek to France, seeks similar answers. “What’s bothering me when we’re talking about immigration is that we often associate these people with ghosts and shadows,” he says. “They are not human in our minds.”

Italian photographer Alessandro Penso, who has been following migrants around Europe, focusing on hotspots like Greece, Italy and Malta, says he seeks moments of spontaneity to expose the humanity of his subjects.”There are simple gestures and habits in daily life that, as banal as they can seem to our eyes, hide the simple truth that we are all humans and vulnerable.”

Humanizing the people making these dangerous and harrowing journeys is important, Penso and his colleagues argue, especially when photography can lead to misconceptions. Cases in point are the widely published photographs of “hordes” of people scaling border fences in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the edge of northern Morocco. “[When] people see these images,” says Santi Palacios, an Associated Press photographer who has taken such pictures, “they [think] we’ve been invaded.”

The people portrayed in these images are often seen shirtless and shouting, Jobard says, deliberately assuming a provocative stance. “They actually choose to behave like ‘wild animals’ in these situations—to impress or to scare people because it’s a real battle to get in [Melilla]. Of course, that also does them disservice.”

Once they’ve made it over the fence, he says, the contrast is striking. “They dress up, they take care of their appearances.” Last year, he shadowed a man named Hassan Adam from the Ivory Coast, who spent hours on one of these fences, alone. His friends had made it across to Melilla, successfully avoiding the police forces, but Adam was handcuffed, beaten and sent back to Morocco. Jobard tracked him down, months later, after he had finally made it across. “I told his story,” he says. “I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person.”

For all of those who made it over the fence, or past border patrols or across the Mediterranean, there are untold thousands who lost their lives in the search for a new or better one. In October, Italian photographer Francesco Zizola dived 59 meters to photograph the wreckage of a boat that had carried some 500 people, and now rests at the bottom of the Mediterranean. He sought to convey the vastness of the tragedy that had occurred one year before, when 360 people lost their lives.

“I wanted to show to everybody that our comfortable, bourgeois homes could turn—as if in a nightmare—into that cabin with the red curtain, which I photographed inside the sunken ship,” he says. “That cabin is the tomb of our collective conscience and a memento of our indifference.”

Alice Gabriner and Mikko Takkunen edited this photo essay. With reporting by Lucia De Stefani, a contributor to TIME LightBox.

Andrew Katz is a News Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @katz. Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent.

TIME Italy

Terror Suspects Planned Bombing Attack on Vatican, Italian Authorities Say

Italian police officers patrol outside St. Peter's Square in Rome. Islamic extremists suspected in a bomb attack in a Pakistani market that killed more than 100 people had also planned an attack against the Vatican in 2010 that was never carried out, an Italian prosecutor said Friday.
Gregorio Borgia—AP Italian police officers patrol outside St. Peter's Square in Rome. Islamic extremists suspected in a bomb attack in a Pakistani market that killed more than 100 people had also planned an attack against the Vatican in 2010 that was never carried out, an Italian prosecutor said Friday.

Italian authorities said Friday they were making arrests of 18 suspected terrorists

(MILAN) — Islamic extremists suspected in a bomb attack in a Pakistani market that killed more than 100 people had also planned an attack against the Vatican in 2010 that was never carried out, an Italian prosecutor said Friday.

Wiretaps collected as part of an investigation into an Islamic terror network operating in Italy gave “signals of some preparation for a possible attack” at the Vatican, prosecutor Mauro Mura told a news conference in Cagliari, Sardinia. That included the arrival in Rome of a Pakistani suicide bomber, Mura said.

The Pakistani eventually left Italy, Mura said, without explaining why. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that there were two suicide bombers and that they were warned off by their associates in Italy when police began executing search warrants in the case.

The Vatican downplayed the significance of the alleged plot.

“From what it appears, this concerns a hypothesis that dates from 2010 which didn’t occur. It has therefore no relevance today and no reason for particular concern,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The news of the planned attack came as police said they arrested nine suspected extremists accused of plotting terror in Pakistan aimed at stopping that government’s actions against the Taliban. Arrest warrants were being executed against some 20 suspects.

At the time of the suspected plot to bomb the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI was still reeling from the effects in the Muslim world of a 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”

While relations with the Muslim world were eventually repaired, tensions flared again in 2011 when Cairo’s al-Azhar institute, the pre-eminent theological school of Sunni Islam, suspended interfaith talks with the Vatican after Benedict called for greater protections for Egypt’s minority Christians.

More recently, Italian officials have made clear they take seriously the threat of the Islamic State group to conquer Rome and the seat of Christianity. Security has been beefed up at the Vatican and the head of the Swiss Guards has said they are ready but that they have no information about an imminent threat.

Pope Francis himself has said he realizes he may be a target but that he fears mostly for the innocent crowds who come to see him every time he’s in public.

The investigation was launched in 2005, but Mura said it was slowed when news of the investigation leaked to the media, alerting the suspects that they were being watched.

Authorities said some of the suspects sought in the probe were responsible for “numerous bloody acts of terrorism in Pakistan,” including the October 2009 explosion in a market in Peshawar in which more than 100 people died. That attack happened on the same day that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Mura noted.

One of the suspects arrested Friday had a construction business in Sardinia that participated in work for a Group of Eight summit planned for Sardinia but that was later moved to quake-stricken Aquilia, in Abruzzo to boost reconstruction.

Mura also said some of the suspects had very close ties to al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and that wiretaps included phone calls inquiring about his health.

Police said the aim of the terror network was to create an insurrection against the Pakistani government.

___

Nicole Winfield contributed to this report from Rome.

TIME europe

These 5 Facts Explain Europe’s Deadly Migrants Crisis

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes
Loukas Mastis—EPA Illegal migrants arriving at Zefyros beach at Rhodes island, Greece, April 20, 2015.

Over 1,500 migrants have died trying to reach Europe—and the numbers are only likely to increase unless the EU takes real action

On April 19, more than 600 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized on its way from Africa to Italy. On April 12, about 400 people died in a separate shipwreck. So far in 2015, 1,600 migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, and authorities fear that the number will surge as the weather warms. These five stats explain the rising tide of migration problems for Europe and for the desperate migrants of Africa and the Middle East.

1. Political Refugees Fleeing to Europe

EU member states received 216,300 applications for asylum last year. A large number of these asylum seekers are fleeing from Syria (civil war), Eritrea (dictatorship) and Mali (another civil war). Many of them are officially recognized as “refugees” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a status that affords certain legal protections. But navigating the red tape takes time. Rather than waiting for a reluctant host country to take them in, many of these refugees entrust their fates to smugglers. As we’ve seen time and again, this can lead to tragic results.

(UNHCR, VOX)

2. Trouble on the Rise

75% of migrant deaths worldwide occur in the Mediterranean Sea. Europe has already seen a 43% increase in migrants through the first two months of 2015, and peak migration season (typically May through September) hasn’t yet begun. In 2014, the top countries of origin of people attempting to enter Europe by sea were Syria (67,000), Eritrea (34,000), Afghanistan (13,000) and Mali (10,000). Currently, an estimated 600,000 people are waiting in Libya to emigrate, according to Vox. These people represent three years worth of migration to Europe at the present rate.

(Guardian, BBC, Economist, VOX)

3. The Insufficient European Response

Even for those migrants who safely reach European shores, their troubles are far from over. The EU requires that asylum petitions be processed by the country in which migrants first arrive. As a result, southern countries such as Malta, Italy and Greece have found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of incoming migrants, while richer northern countries receive relatively few. Until last year, Italy had a program in place to find and rescue migrant ships, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Italy had to spend $9.7 million a month to fund the program, and so turned to the rest of Europe for help. The United Kingdom and others made it clear that they would not offer support for rescue operations, for fear doing so would encourage more people to attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing. This past fall, the EU’s border patrol agency Frontex took over responsibility from Italian authorities—with a budget that is about a seventh of what Italy was spending on its own.

(FiveThirtyEight, VOX, Economist)

4. Turkey Stands Apart

While Italy and the rest of the EU struggle, neighboring Turkey has been busy hosting 1.6 million displaced Syrians within its borders, or about half the people who have fled that country since the fighting began there nearly four years ago. Taking in refugees is not cheap; the total cost to Turkey is estimated to be $4.5 billion and rising. Turkey has introduced new regulations to give the Syrians a more robust legal status in the country, which includes access to basic services like health care and education. But Istanbul has stopped short of granting these migrants official refugee status, which would provide them with additional social services.

(New York Times, World Bulletin)

5. Rise in Xenophobia

The cost of taking in migrants is not measured only in dollars or euros. As Europe’s economy has struggled to rebound, anti-immigrant attitudes have risen across the continent. In a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2014, a median of 55% of Europeans surveyed wanted to limit immigration. The percentages were much higher in struggling countries like Greece (86%) and Italy (80%). The rise in xenophobia has propelled new far-right parties to the political forefront, and older parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France are looking to play a much larger role in their countries’ politics in years to come. As long as high-unemployment persists in the Euro region, rising xenophobia in EU countries will be an important driver in shaping EU migrant policy.

(New York Times, Pew Research Center)

TIME World

#TheBrief: Who Is Responsible for Migrants Who Seek Asylum?

Who is responsible for migrants seeking asylum? Italy? Or the European Union?

At least 700 refugees are feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya.

With countries in Europe closing up borders to prevent the influx of refugees fleeing war and conflict, migrants—mostly from Syria and Eritrea, but also from sub-Saharan Africa—are opting for the risky voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy.

From Italy, they travel to countries like Spain, Greece, and the U.K.—all in search for asylum and better job opportunities.

But it could come at a price.

TIME Italy

One Migrant’s Harrowing Journey From Senegal to Italy

ITALY-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK
Giovanni Isolino—AFP/Getty Images Shipwrecked migrants disembark from a rescue vessel as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.

He traveled through the Sahara for more than 12 days before reaching chaotic Libya and the treacherous Mediterranean

Mahmoud’s journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in mid-April was a hellish two-day ordeal. The 28-year-old vomited uncontrollably as the tight-packed boat tossed on the choppy waters, he recalls, while several passengers died of dehydration and were buried at sea. He was weak and shaken by the time the vessel drifted ashore in Italy, and he remains haunted by the experience. “Even now I have a problem in my head,” he told TIME on Monday, recounting a traumatic four-month trip from his home in Senegal into Fortress Europe. “I cannot sleep,” he says, speaking by phone from an immigrant center in Rome, where he is now applying for refugee status. “Many people I met have died trying to cross to Europe.”

With at least 1,000 migrants dead in the Mediterranean this past week — the deadliest week at sea for migrants in memory — E.U. officials are scrambling to devise strategies to halt the armada of smugglers’ boats crossing from North Africa, and to prevent more mass drownings, which are turning the Mediterranean into a mass grave of migrants. Many are fleeing wars or poverty back home, facing severe risks that have spiraled in their deadliness. About 1,500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean since Jan. 1, compared with 96 in the first four months of last year, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration.

Shocked at the toll, E.U. leaders are set to discuss a raft of emergency measures in Brussels on Thursday, including deploying more boats to help migrants — something many E.U. countries have been loath to do until now — and streamlining immigration and asylum requests from Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people are leaving for Europe.

But above all, E.U. officials say that for the mass deaths to stop, there is one place where peace is needed, and now: Libya.

With the great majority of boats leaving from Libya’s coast, European officials believe that country’s collapse into chaotic violence has allowed a rapacious mafia of human traffickers to flourish with impunity. E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters Monday that Europe wanted to work with Libyans to form a national unity government, so rival factions could together administer the country and help crack down on traffickers. “We invite all Libyans to have the same sense of urgency,” she said, “not only to save their country but the many human lives that are put at risk on their own territory.”

Judging from Mahmoud’s harrowing description of his journey through Libya, and from interviews with those who remain in Libya, however, stopping the smugglers will be a daunting task.

Despite the deaths on the Mediterranean, Libyan traffickers are still finding thousands of eager customers, mostly African, who are desperate for a way out and willing to pay smugglers a hefty $1,000 each to squeeze on to heavily overloaded boats.

Mahmoud, who requested his last name not be used for fear of complicating his request for asylum in Italy, estimates he paid a steep $2,130 to smugglers throughout the trip.

After leaving Senegal, Mahmoud crossed the blistering Sahara for more than 12 days, traveling through Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, as groups of migrants were passed from one smuggling group to the next, each demanding payment. With little to eat or drink, he recalled, several migrants died in the sand. When they finally staggered into Tripoli, they found a terrifying city racked by gunfire and militia battles. When Mahmoud ventured out to find work in order to pay for his onward journey, he says, police arrested him and jailed him for “one month and four days.”

Libya’s Catholic Bishop, Father Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, told TIME from Tripoli on Monday that he has begun begging Africans who visit his whitewashed Italianate church in the city not to risk death on the unforgiving sea. “I try to discourage them, I try to teach them courage,” he says. But his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. And meanwhile, hundreds more migrants keep arriving in Libya, in search for smugglers to take them to Europe.

By the time the African migrants arrive in Tripoli, they have already paid dearly for leaving home — so dearly, in fact, that stopping short of Europe seems almost unfathomable. Mahmoud never contemplated turning around, a decision that would have required retracing the perilous Sahara route, which he says had “many bandits and robbers.”

Martinelli said many migrants crowded into his church on Sunday, just hours after the news broke that hundreds of migrants appeared to have drowned in the worst single incident in the Mediterranean on record. “The church is full, full, full of Africans,” he said, speaking from Tripoli. “They all want to get to Italy, they all want a possibility to leave.”

Smugglers finally packed Mahmoud and others into a dinghy late one night in early April, but the vessel sprang a leak and the group turned back. Police shot at them as they clambered back ashore, according to his account, killing seven migrants. A few days later, smugglers tried again, packing hundreds into a boat at midnight and sending them across the Mediterranean.

Although his nightmarish journey is now over, Mahmoud says the experience has left him severely affected, and with lasting medical problems. Asked what he tells friends back in Senegal who are considering making the same trek to Europe, he says, “I tell them, ‘Never, never, never go.’”

Read next: More Migrants Saved From Drowning as E.U. Tries to Act

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Italy

Hundreds Feared Dead in Mediterranean After Migrant Boat Capsizes

At least 24 were confirmed dead

(ROME) — A boat crowded with migrants capsized in the sea north of Libya overnight, leaving at least 24 confirmed dead with the death toll expected to rise into the hundreds, Italy’s Coast Guard said Sunday.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that the migrants’ 20-meter (66-foot) vessel was reported to be sinking as a Portuguese-registered merchant ship, the King Jacob, approached to attempt a rescue. It picked up 28 passengers, but the boat then capsized, sending hundreds more tumbling into the water.

The Coast Guard’s command and rescue coordination center in Rome said the boat may have overturned “because its occupants moved to the side closest to the cargo ship.”

The Italian news agency ANSA said the boat may have held 700 passengers. But the Coast Guard and other authorities said they had no immediate way to determine how many were aboard or how many might still be rescued. The estimated death toll was expected to be clarified as officers interviewed survivors, although many bodies were expected never to be recovered.

Pope Francis was among those following the news. “There are fears there could be hundreds of dead,” Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. He bowed his head in silent prayer as did many of the tens of thousands in the crowd.

Wreckage of the boat was spotted in the sea.

“There are large fuel stains, pieces of wood, life jackets,” Italian Border Police Gen. Antonino Iraso, whose force has boats deployed in the rescue effort, told Sky TG24 TV.

When asked whether the boat capsized because the migrants rushed to one side as the Portuguese vessel pulled alongside, Iraso replied: “The dynamics aren’t clear. But this is not the first time that has happened.”

Italy is the No. 1 destination for illegal immigration to the European Union, and the numbers of migrants attempting the dangerous crossing by sea from Libya swells as the springtime weather improves, providing calmer seas and warmer water temperatures. But the smugglers’ boats are invariably overcrowded and often too small for the open seas.

So far this year, more than 900 have died in failed crossings. Last week, 400 people were presumed drowned when another boat capsized.

TIME Italy

Pope Asks Europe to Do More to Help Migrants Flooding Into Italy

ITALY-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK
Giovanni Isolino—AFP/Getty Images Shipwrecked migrants disembark from a rescue vessel as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.

"The proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement"

(ROME )—Pope Francis joined Italy in pressing the European Union Saturday to do more to help the country cope with rapidly mounting numbers of desperate people rescued in the Mediterranean during journeys on smugglers’ boats to flee war, persecution or poverty.

As the pope made his appeal, flanked by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, hundreds of migrants took their first steps on land in Sicilian ports after being rescued in past days by merchant vessels and Italian Coast Guard boats. Sicilian towns were running out of places to shelter the arrivals, including more than 10,000 in the week ending Saturday.

With his wide popularity and deep concern for social issues, the pope’s moral authority gives Italy a boost in its lobbying for Brussels and northern EU countries to do more. Since the start of 2014, nearly 200,000 people have been rescued at sea by Italy.

“I express my gratitude for the commitment that Italy is making to welcome the many migrants who, risking their life, ask to be taken in,” Francis told the Italian head of state. “It’s evident that the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement.”

“We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level,” Francis said.

Italy says it will continue rescuing migrants abandoned by smugglers but demands the European Union increase assistance to shelter and rescue them. Since most of the migrants want to reach family or other members of their community in northern Europe, Italian governments have pushed for those countries to do more, particularly by taking in the migrants while their requests for asylum or refugee status are examined.

“For some time, Italy has called on the European Union for decisive intervention to stop this continuous loss of human life in the Mediterranean, the cradle of our civilization,” Mattarella said.

The European Union’s commissioner for migration, Dmitris Avramopoulos, says a new policy will be presented in May. Meanwhile, he has also called for member states to help deal with the crisis.

Some of the 90 migrants who set foot Saturday on Palermo’s docks were too weak to stand. Most were from Somalia. A merchant ship which intercepted their distress call rescued them; then they were transferred to an Italian Coast Guard vessel.

Also on Saturday, an Italian navy ship arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina with more than 450 migrants, including 50 minors, from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Syria. Police marched two suspected migrant-smugglers off the ship after arresting them onboard.

Several Sicilian towns say they are running out of room, and many of the latest arrivals were being taken to other shelters on the Italian mainland, including in the north.

Days of calm seas and good weather, combined with increasing chaos and violence in Libya, are cited as factors in the current surge of migrants.

TIME Italy

41 Migrants Feared Dead in Mediterranean Shipwreck

Italian Red Cross personnel prepare to give first aid to shipwrecked migrants as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.
Giovanni Isolino—AFP/Getty Images Italian Red Cross personnel prepare to give first aid to shipwrecked migrants as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.

Survivors reported the tragedy to aid workers

(MILAN)—Another 41 migrants are feared drowned in a new Mediterranean shipwreck, the International Organization for Migrants reported Thursday, citing survivor accounts.

Four migrants who were picked up in recent days by the Italian Navy reported the tragedy to aid workers after arriving in the Italian port of Trapani Thursday, said IOM, which is based in Geneva. They were among 580 migrants brought to the port on Thursday.

The new tragedy comes just days after aid agencies reported 400 presumed dead in the sinking of another ship near the Libyan coast on Monday. The deaths have raised calls for a more robust search and rescue of the seas between Libya and Europe amid an unprecedented wave of migration between the Middle East and Africa toward Italy.

The agency said the migrants — two Nigerians, a Ghanaian and one Nigerien — were found floating in the sea by a helicopter and were rescued by the Italian Naval ship Foscari. They had left Tripoli in Libya on Saturday and stayed adrift for four days. The location of the rescue was not immediately known.

TIME Italy

Survivors Tell Aid Group Some 400 Migrants Drowned Off Libya

A Red Cross volunteer carries a baby wrapped in a blanket after migrants disembarked at the Sicilian Porto Empedocle harbor, Italy, April 13, 2015
Calogero Montanalampo—AP A Red Cross volunteer carries a baby wrapped in a blanket after migrants disembarked at the Sicilian Porto Empedocle harbor, Italy, on April 13, 2015

More than 7,000 migrants have been plucked from the Mediterranean in the last four days

(ROME) — Survivors of a capsized migrant boat off Libya have told the aid group Save the Children that an estimated 400 people are believed to have drowned. Even before the survivors were interviewed, Italy’s Coast Guard said it assumed that there were many dead given the size of the ship and that nine bodies had been found.

The coast guard had helped rescue some 144 people on Monday and immediately launched an air and sea search operation in hopes of finding others. No other survivors or bodies have been recovered.

On Tuesday, Save the Children said its interviews with survivors who arrived in Reggio Calabria indicated there may have been 400 others who drowned.

The U.N. refugee agency said the toll was likely given the size of the ship.

The deaths, if confirmed, would add to the skyrocketing numbers of migrants lost at sea: The International Organization of Migration estimates that up to 3,072 migrants are believed to have died in the Mediterranean in 2014, compared to an estimate of 700 in 2013. But the IOM says even those estimates could be low. Overall, since the year 2000, IOM estimates that over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe.

Earlier Tuesday, the European Union’s top migration official said the EU must quickly adapt to the growing numbers of migrants trying to reach its shores, as new figures showed that more than 7,000 migrants have been plucked from the Mediterranean in the last four days.

Migrants on a Coast Guard dinghy boat arrive at the Sicilian Porto Empedocle harbor, Italy, Monday, …
“The unprecedented influx of migrants at our borders, and in particular refugees, is unfortunately the new norm and we will need to adjust our responses accordingly,” the EU’s commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told lawmakers in Brussels.

More than 280,000 people entered the European Union illegally last year. Many came from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia and made the perilous sea journey from conflict-torn Libya.

European coast guards have been overwhelmed by the numbers. As the weather has begun to warm, even more people have been fleeing conflict and poverty for better lives in Europe.

Of the 7,000 migrants saved in the Mediterranean since Friday, “over 3,500 are still on board rescue vessels and being taken to Italy and so far, 11 bodies were recovered,” EU migration spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said.

Meanwhile the EU’s Frontex border agency said that people smugglers trying to recover a wooden boat that had been carrying migrants had fired shots into the air to warn away a coast guard vessel.

European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos speaks during a committee …
The incident on Monday happened some 60 nautical miles off the coast of Libya after an Italian tugboat and the coast guard ship came to the rescue of 250 migrants.

The coast guard vessel was already carrying 342 migrants from a previous rescue.

It’s at least the second incident of this kind, raising concern for the safety of rescue workers and migrants alike.

Late next month, Avramopoulos is expected to unveil a new EU strategy aimed at tackling the migrant wave.

TIME celebrities

Get Out of Your Car Within 100m of George Clooney’s Italian Villas and You’ll Be Fined Up to $550

A lakeside view of George Clooney's villa Oleandra on Lake Como, northern Italy, taken Thursday, July 8, 2004.
Antonio Calanni—Associated Press A lakeside view of George Clooney's villa Oleandra on Lake Como, northern Italy, taken Thursday, July 8, 2004.

Drive on sir, nothing to see here

The mayor of Laglio, Italy has warned that anyone who sets foot within 100 meters of George and Amal Clooney’s twin luxury villas overlooking Lake Como will be fined up to €500 ($550.)

Robert Pozzi, mayor of the small picturesque village in northern Italy, issued the ordinance to protect Clooney, his wife Amal and their guests’ privacy while they vacation in their glitzy properties, reports the Telegraph.

Anyone who leaves their car or boat within 100 meters of Clooney’s Villa Oleandra and adjoining Villa Margherita will be liable to pay the hefty fine.

The Gravity and Oceans 11 star bought one of the exclusive villas in 2002, but after fans and paparazzi flooded the town and set up camp near his home, Clooney bought the adjoining property to ensure his privacy.

Before the couple’s wedding last year, a similar exclusion zone was enforced around the homes to protect the pair from snooping photographers

[Telegraph]

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