Press Release

London. UK. For migrants and refugees fleeing adversity in Libya, the dangerous Central Mediterranean Sea is the only way to reach safety the only passage to safety. Victims and Survivors of the world’s deadliest migration route share their stories of fear, suffering and hope, in the latest publication from Human Rights at Sea.
“I had to cross the sea because I want to live.”

Written in partnership with maritime-humanitarian organisation SOS MEDITERRANEEIn Search of Safe Haven records the personal testimonies of individuals who have endured the unimaginable.

Held in dire conditions in Libya, people are tortured, starved, and sexually abused. Migrants and refugees report being stripped of their passports and trapped in Libya at the mercy of gangs and militias.

Trying to cross the Central Mediterranean Sea offers potential safety for those who reach Europe, however the crossing itself is life-threatening. In 2021 alone, more than 1,200 people fleeing Libya in the attempt to reach Malta or Italy across the Mediterranean were reported dead or missing.

Despite the dangers of going to sea, the situation on the ground remains so severe that tens of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children continue to traverse the central Mediterranean to escape suffering.

As SOS MEDITERRANEE rescues those risking their lives to escape inhumane treatment, the European Union continues to support the Libyan coastguards who intercept the vessels and send survivors back into a cycle of exploitation and abuse.

HRAS Comment

“Human Rights at Sea is working to ensure that the human rights of migrants and refugees at sea are protected. Our latest publication, in partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE, exposes a distressing narrative and the immediate need for greater rescue capacity at sea to bring survivors of human rights abuses to safety.”


“People are forced to leave their home for a myriad of reasons, but the stories of those who risk their lives crossing the central Mediterranean often have a common denominator: once in Libya, they are trapped in an inhumane cycle of abuse, attempting to flee on unseaworthy boats is the main option to flee. This joint publication of Human Rights at Sea and SOS MEDITERRANEE offers a glimpse into the reality people face in Libya and in the central Mediterranean by sharing some of the stories that people rescued from distress at sea told our team on the Ocean Viking.”

In Search of Safe Haven – The sea as the only option


Press Details:


Julia Schaefermeyer, Communications Officer

+33 6 12 52 15 69

Human Rights at Sea  

Elizabeth Mavropoulou, Head of Research