I am 220

16 more in collection I am 220: Surviving a Migrant Boat Disaster

I am 220

‘27 years old, originally I came from Nigeria. I crossed from Libya to Italy in a small boat. 105 people went with me, 103 of them survived’

In Sicily I stumble upon a fenced camp in the harbor town of Trapani. At this camp I meet number 220. He is one of around 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. One day in Libya a child shot at me, and his parents laughed. That won’t happen here’

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.

Berta Banacloche / Jeffry Ruigendijk


Refugee story from Sicily, Italy, including photos made by the refugee in his camp.


Interested in extended license to match your needs? Contact us via email or call +44 75 226 13520.

Click to expand