Xchange Press Release: Dehydration, slavery, and death; the under-reported migrant story. Xchange’s newest survey traces back the dangerous journeys and abuses migrants face before crossing the Central Mediterranean


Xchange Press Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       19th June 2018


Dehydration, slavery, and death; the under-reported migrant story. Xchange’s newest survey traces back the dangerous journeys and abuses migrants face before crossing the Central Mediterranean.

Xchange launches its Central Mediterranean Survey: Mapping Migration Routes & Incidents on Tuesday 19th June 2018.

The MOAS-funded survey, conducted over a two-month period between May and July of 2017, examines the most active major migratory route into Europe, the Central Mediterranean Route; a stretch of water connecting Libya and Italy via the Sicilian channel.  First hand qualitative data for the report was collected by Xchange while accompanying Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) during four of its Search and Rescue missions on board the MY Phoenix.

Before Xchange began this research, knowledge and evidence of this route remained anecdotal at best and unreliable at worst.  Last year, up to 80% of migrant and refugee entries into Europe were made on the Central Mediterranean Route, but departures from the coast of Libya mark only the final stage in the long and dangerous journey. Migrants and refugees are risking their lives on overland journeys from different origin points in Sub-Saharan Africa, traversing barren and constantly changing desert landscapes, and entrusting their fate to smugglers and traffickers.  There are dangers on every step of the journey, from death and dehydration in the desert to being sold as slaves in Libya, at the hands of the militias. 

I was kept for twenty days without food and water with the kidnapper (dressed as police) demanding ransom from my friends and family.

Munir, Sudan, incident location Tubruk (Libya)

Drawing on interviews with over 100 migrants rescued aboard the MY Phoenix, Xchange has been tracing back the complex journeys and the multitude of human rights abuses faced by those unable to make regular legal routes to Europe.  The findings show trends in both the locations and types of incidents endured, shining a previously unseen light on violent ‘hotspots’ on the continent.

We were taken to a field and made to work at gun point. We were fed once a day and beaten like slaves.

Abdul Kareem, Sudan, incident location Ajdabiya (Libya)

The majority of respondents were from the African continent with the most represented countries being Sudan, Nigeria and the Gambia, as well as Bangladesh.  When looking at what drove people to leave home, 84% said that poverty and economic instability were the key driving factors; they wished to improve their own and their families futures. 

MOAS Director, Regina Catrambone said,

This report casts light over the complex and dynamic migration patterns of migrants at a specific point in time, which is absolutely crucial in the process of understanding the sacrifices that so many migrants make, and the dangers they face, in pursuing a better future for themselves and their families back home.

Senior Research Advisor for Xchange, Maria Jones said,

We must continue to push for consistent monitoring and analysis of these dangerous overland routes before the maritime crossing is made.


About Us:

At Xchange, we believe in the power of data to transform public perception on human migration. We dig beyond the headlines to add meaning to numbers and advocate for better knowledge of migration through freely available data visualisation and analysis, as well as in-depth research and reports. Our data is the summary of thousands of individual journeys. Xchange was established to investigate and document human movement in countries of origin, transit, and destination through on-the-ground engagement with all stakeholders, most of all migrants themselves, with a view to provide policy makers, State bodies, non-governmental organisations, and the public in general with accurate data which stems directly from field research. Our goal is to cast a spotlight on the information gaps found along the main migratory routes for the benefit of all, not least migrants themselves.


MOAS is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to providing aid and emergency medical relief to refugees and migrants around the world. Since our inception, MOAS has reached over 100,000 children, women and men through our programs in the field. Founded in 2013 in response to the Mediterranean maritime migration phenomenon, today MOAS is working in Bangladesh to provide emergency medical care and assistance to Rohingya refugees fleeing from violence and persecution in Myanmar.

You can read the full report here.

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For press enquiries and interviews about the report please contact:

Press: info@xchange.org

Phone: (Office) +356 2131 0047

PR Mob: +356 7984 9591