Weaponising Exposure 6c - A Sea of Impunity: the 'left-to-die' boat


A Sea of Impunity: the scandal of the ‘left-to-die’ boat

[imagecaption] Testimony of Dan Haile Gebre, survivor of the ‘left-to-die’ boat, interview conducted by Lorenzo Pezzani, Forensic Architecture, 2011.  [/imagecaption]


‘There was an abdication of responsibility which led to the deaths of over 60 people, including children…That constitutes a crime, and that crime cannot go unpunished just because the victims were African migrants and not tourists on a cruise liner.’

Father Moses Zerai, an Eritrean priest in Rome who had contact with people on board

In March 2011, 72 people from Sub-Saharan Africa, including women, children and infants, attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. They made their their first distress call within 15-18 hours of beginning their journey, and subsequently came into contact with helicopters, a large military vessel and several fishing boats. Yet none of the actors involved attempted to initiate a rescue effort.

By the time the ‘left-to-die boat drifted back to the Libyan coast, 15 days after its departure, only 11 of those on board were still alive. One of the survivors died soon after reaching land, while another died due to medical neglect shortly after they were detained by authorities.

Reports such as the Netherlands activists’ report, ‘Lives Lost in the Mediterranean Sea: who is responsible?‘, and Forensic Oceanography’s investigation of the ‘Left-To-Die Boat’, provide detailed accounts of the journey and the multiple points at which action could have been taken to prevent this devastating loss of life.


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.