Editor’s note: This film will be removed on December 15, 2019.
“We’ve got a lot of people in trouble in these terrible little boats, and those boats aren’t going to last very long out there,” says seaman Jon Castle, who is traversing the waters of the Mediterranean looking for people fleeing Africa and the Middle East to Europe.
He and other volunteers with Sea-Watch, a German non-profit, search for boats off the coast of Libya, picking up refugees, handing out life-jackets, providing medical attention, and rescuing those making the dangerous sea crossing.
Many they pick up are in critical condition, suffering from dehydration, heatstroke and other illnesses. Among them are pregnant women and children. Dead bodies are not uncommon.
Aisha, a woman from Ivory Coast, was fleeing desperate circumstances when she was picked up.
“Kidnappings, rape, human beings being sold. When I saw this in Libya I couldn’t stand it. Then, someone told us about the sea crossing. And I knew there were two options: Life or death,” she says.
So far, more than 1,000 refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2019.
“The closer you get to the problem like a car crash or something, then it’s not just a mass of people, then they’re separating into individuals,” says Jon.
“And then they’ve actually got different expressions on their faces. Then you have to start dealing with them as people. And then your heart starts operating more than your head. And your heart tells the truth when you listen to it.”
Lifeboat bears witness to one of the world’s greatest contemporary crises, documenting those risking everything to escape war and oppression for a better life.
Source: Al Jazeera