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>> A changing trend is becoming evident in the Mediterranean, with a growing number of Libyans fleeing their homes attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy. I'm Darrin Zammit Lupi, a Reuters photographer onboard the Seefuchs, a migrant search and rescue ship. Crewed entirely by volunteers from the German NGO Sea-Eye, it is one of the few NGO ships still operating in the region after restrictions imposed by the Libyan authorities and the Italian government forced many of the NGOs to suspend their activities.
I've been covering the migration story for over a decade. Whereas before we would see lots of rubber dinghies and large wooden boats packed with hundreds of mostly Sub-Saharan Africans, what I've been seeing during this mission is small wooden and fiber glass boats carrying between 5 and 16 persons on board, the vast majority of whom appear to be Libyan.
>> Please guys, put on your life vests.>> Many locals are fleeing from Libya because of the widely spread conflicts between rival militias, soaring violent crime, regular kidnappings for ransom. But mostly, because they have an increasingly despondent view of the world, giving up hope that the situation and their lives might one day improve in the North African country.
Libya is home they say, and they will want to return, but not if things remain as they currently are. According to the UN refugee agency, already this year some 800 Libyans have reached Italy by sea, more than double the number for all of 2016. That number is still a fraction of the more than 106,000 migrants who have come to Italy from Libya this year.
But it does suggest that conditions, already terrible for migrants travelling through the country on their way to Europe, are deteriorating for locals as well.