Why Al Jazeera Media Network turned to photography to highlight the story of migrant rescues

The sea route between Libya and Malta/Italy is the deadliest migration crossing in the world.

Al Jazeera Media Network (Digital Division) won the Best Use of Photography award at The Drum Online Media Awards 2020 for its ‘Meet the Rescuers’ coverage. Here, the team behind the images explain the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this project.

The challenge

The sea route between Libya and Malta/Italy is the deadliest migration crossing in the world. More than 1,000 people died making that crossing in 2019 while the figure sits at almost 12,000 since 2016.

Rescue efforts are carried out by volunteers and NGO rescuers. The rescuers’ work has been criminalised by some politicians. They have also been threatened.

The strategy

Al Jazeera’s Faras Ghani spent two weeks on board a migrant rescue vessel in the central Mediterranean - the Ocean Viking operated by MSF and SOS Mediterranee - documenting the rescues and collecting testimonials from the migrants and refugees.

The campaign

In addition to the rescued people and their stories, Al Jazeera decided to share and document the human faces and hear the human voices behind these rescue efforts. People who, despite the challenges and opposition they face, still risk their lives, their comfort and safety to help rescue people they don’t know.

This coverage helps put a name and face to those rescuers and also describes why they have decided to come out on sea and brave the conditions to rescue people.

This project was a winner at The Drum Online Media Awards 2020. To find out which of The Drum's awards are currently open for entries, click here.

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