The migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean into Europe include more and more unaccompanied children, and arrivals from African countries endure harsher conditions.
Health workers at reception centers describe a range of medical issues—some related to the journey, others from the conditions in their original country—in the arrivals, according to Chiara Montaldo, who is coordinating efforts by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Sicily to provide medical and psychological care to the migrants. “When the migrants get on to a boat, they know that some will die, some will survive. They are prepared to take those risks because what they are leaving is so bad, she said.
Middle Eastern migrants tend to arrive in better boats and health, while people from African countries often arrive with ulcers and chemical burns from the petrol flooding the boat’s holds, skin diseases like scabies and lice from months in Libyan detention centers in Libya, or wounds from torture or violence. Shipwreck survivors are have usually swallowed lots of salt water and suffer from respiratory diseases, along with trauma.