In April 2017, an Internews team conducted a rapid assessment on information needs among refugees and migrants in Italy, visiting formal reception facilities (hotspot, CAS, CARA) in Lampedusa, Agrigento, Catania, and informal centers in Ventimiglia and Rome.
The numbers of people attempting to reach Italy from points in North Africa (namely, Libya) through extremely dangerous routes, as well as those who perish on the journey, are staggering. It is impossible to know how many deaths occur while traversing the African continent, or while in captivity in Libya. One migrant said, ominously, “for every 1,000 of us there are here (in Italy), 5,000 have died along the way.” Before they board overcrowded wooden boats or dinghies destined for Italian shores, migrants report being tortured and held for ransom, arbitrary and prolonged detention, as well as brutal sexual abuse while they are in Libya. Their phones are taken, and they have no means of accessing critical services or information.
Migrants embark on a months-long (or more) journey without realizing how dire it is, or the brutality that awaits them in Libya. When asked if they would make the voyage again, knowing what they know now, an overwhelming number of migrants said that they would surely not. Countries of origin and transit are as critical to the information landscape as is Italy itself, and this is why finding an effective way to bring narratives about the journey back to countries of origin is a critical piece in the puzzle of the European migration crisis.
Lost in Translation examines the critical role of local media and provides recommendations for addressing the information void contributing to the refugee crisis.