11 Oct 2013 15:00
October 15, 2013
"I am 27 years old, originally I came from Nigeria. I crossed from Libya to Italy in a small boat. 105 people went with me and 103 of them survived," said Refugee 220.
In Sicily I stumbled upon a fenced camp in the harbor town of Trapani. At this camp I met number 220. He is one of about 800 people who crossed over from Africa to Italy in the last three weeks. After the tragedy of the third of October, the sea has become a human cemetery. Number 220 is one of the lucky ones. He made it to land.
Number 220 says he was living in Libya, but the situation there drove him to attempt the crossing. He survived, but two women on his small boat died before a commercial ship took them on board. Eventually they ended up in an old gym in Trapani. He spends his days here with 85 other young men. ‘This is already better than Libya, I feel safe here and don’t hear gunshots anymore.’
The men in the gym have no idea what will happen to them. They don’t speak a word of Italian and the guards of the camp don’t speak English. They are totally in the dark about their status and tell me I am the first person to speak English to them since they arrived.
Since the guards don’t give me any information either, and won’t let me enter the camp, number 220 and me decide to meet outside the camp. Here I give him a disposable camera, so he can show me his life inside the camp. ‘I don’t do much inside, mainly sleep and sit on the patio with other guys from Nigeria. And wait.’
The quality of these analogue photos is not the best. Number 220 is not a professional photographer. But in my opinion his slightly dark, bleakly colored and out of focus photos perfectly reflect 220’s life at the moment. He lives on the edge of our society. His name is Louis. He could be a friend.
Photos and Text By:
Berta Banacloche / Jeffry Ruigendijk / Refugee 220