The bedroom wall of in an old factory in Rome where homeless migrants sleep.
Musa, from Mali. Musa is a migrant staying in a center for migrants in Mineo, Sicily. He has been in Mineo waiting for asylum documents for the past 11 months. "I lost my life. I feel like that," he says speaking of the limbo his daily life in Italy, "I feel like I will never make it."Once he receives documents he says he will head to Rome to try and find work.
Haleem, from Homs, Syria. "You cannot find any words to describe the sensations of loss we have," says Haleem, "Maybe I don't cry all my life, but I cry that day when I leave my home and family." After 11 days sailing from eastern Turkey to Sicily and 7 days transiting north, Haleem has now made it to Denmark. He hopes to bring his wife and two young boys over as soon as he can.
Fams, from The Gambia. After working as a carpenter in Libya for three years, Fams awoke one night at the start of Libya's revolution to a rifle butt hammering down into his face as young Libyan men raided the compound where he and many other migrants were living. Rumors had spread migrants had aligned with Qaddafi and quickly become targeted by rebels. Fams soon fled to Italy, losing his left eye along the way from injuries sustained that initial night. After receiving asylum in Italy he lived on the street for seven months. He now lives in an old office building in Rome with hundreds of other migrants who cannot find housing. The settlement, known as an "Ocupazione" is unathorized by the government.
Yaser Omar, a Palestinian from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. After fleeing the Syrian government's bombing runs in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus and traveling to Beirut he flew to Khartoum, spent 7 days crossing the Sahara to Libya and then 3 days sailing to Italy. After another week transiting through Italy he made it to Denmark where he has applied for aslyum and is now living.
Alem, from Asmara, Eritrea. Alem sits on the bed in the small room he now calls home in an old office building in downtown Rome where he and roughly 800 other Eritreans and Ethiopians live. Like thousands of his compatriots, he fled a lifetime of military service and a dictatorial government in his home of Eritrea, but now finds himself stranded in Rome with little prospect of work. “Some days I think it was all in my brain,” says Alem of his four-year journey from Eritrea to Rome, “and some days this [life in Rome] is like it is fake as well.”
Kaseem, from Homs, Syria. After working for one and a half years for an NGO in eastern Turkey Kaseem saved up enough money for the journey to northern Europe. After two weeks traveling by boat and train he was detained by police in Milano while on the way to the airport. Refusing to give his fingerprints he was released after 24 hours and has finally made it to Denmark where he has applied for asylum. He hopes to begin a masters in international diplomacy.
Lamin, from The Gambia. "My life seems broken now," he says in the abandoned building where he now lives in Rome. Originally from The Gambia, Lamin arrived in Italy from Libya in October of 2012. After being pushed out of government housing and without money or work he has been homeless for the past 9 months.
Hamza, a five-year-old Palenstinian who was living in Damscus' Yarmouk refugee camp. Hamza fled Yarmouk after being caught in one of the many bombings Assad's forces have conducted on Yarmouk. The right side of his face and upper body are left with the scars from the explosion. After 11 days at sea he was headed to Denmark via Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Maddo, from Senegal. "I thought if I come to Italy life will be better," he explains in the abandoned factory where he and other homeless migrants sleep "but it is not better here. My life is worse. Everything is very bad, everything is so very bad."
Nawras, from Damascus, Syria. Nawras fled Damascus two years ago and had been working and going to school in Istanbul until setting out towards northern Europe via Italy. "I thought we would die in that sea," Nawras says after arriving to Italy by boat from Turkey. He has now made it to Sweden, but continues to have recurring dreams about being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean. He hopes to bring his mother and two younger siblings to Sweden within the next year.
Lamin, from The Gambia was brought to Sicily one year and a half ago after his boat was rescued by Italian authorities. He was sent out of government housing once he received his asylum papers and has been sleeping on the street for the last eight months. "This is not life here," he says of Italy, "we are nowhere now and there is nowhere to go."
The ocean wind blows a thermal blanket around the head of a migrant who has just arrived to Sicily after sailing 11 days from Turkey.
Ishmael, from Senegal eats a meal in his room in a government-run house in Rome and watches a pot of water boil for tea. "My day is just waiting. All I do now is wait."