Mare Nostrum

A large-scale operation to rescue migrants at sea

Lampedusa. Italy’s southernmost point. An island barely larger than its airport, lost in the middle of the Mediterranean 120 miles north of the Libyan coast. A dream. Every year, thousands of desperate migrants set sail from the Northern African shores on board overloaded and precarious boats, and attempt to cross over to this tiny island which, in their eyes, represents Europe and the chance for a new, better life. Many – exactly how many is unknown – never make it: the boat capsizes in a storm, or simply sinks under too much weight, and the passengers drown in the same waters which parted them from their dream. To prevent as many as possible of these casualties, Italy has deployed an imposing aero-naval operation called Mare Nostrum, whose main task is to save the migrants before it is too late. They are then taken to Italy, either Lampedusa or Sicily. But once they get there, their dream is still very far from coming true.