Drowning For Freedom. Documentary Series Features Chilling Footage of Migrants Rescued At Sea And Brought to Detention Centers in Libya.

Migrants Italy
(A boat transporting migrants arrives in the port of Messina after a rescue operation at see on April 18, 2015 in Sicily. GIOVANNI ISOLINO/AFP/Getty Images)

In what is being called one of the deadliest migrant disasters in European history, officials estimate that over 700 migrants from Africa and the Middle East have perished in the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles off the coast of Libya, this past weekend.

According to the New York Times,

Death at sea has become a grimly common occurrence: Even before this weekend’s sinking, humanitarian groups estimated that 900 migrants had already died this year, compared with 90 during the same period a year ago. That figure could rise sharply, as officials estimate that 700 people may have drowned in the weekend disaster.

The rising death toll is renewing criticism of the European response, especially the Triton program, introduced in November to patrol the Mediterranean and rescue migrants. United Nations officials and humanitarian groups have argued that Triton is too limited in scope and resources and thus is placing migrants at grave risk.

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for an emergency summit of European leaders on Sunday. Leaders have pledged to deal with this crisis by increasing the numbers of patrols at sea and by air, as well as by working together to thwart human trafficking operations.

In the following documentary series by VICE News, which features exclusive footage from the Libyan coast guard, we see authorities on rescue missions as well as recovering dead bodies. Migrants from Africa and the Middle East are often forced to endure hellish conditions in Libyan detention centers. The third part of the series takes an intimate look at migrant communities in Libya and as well as into the life of a survivor of the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. (Graphic Content Warning)