Finalist, Rory Peck Award for News Features

Marco Salustro (Italian)

June 2015, Libya

Libya's Migrant Trade: Europe or Die

Commissioned and broadcast by VICE News

Thousands of refugees and migrants desperately seeking a better life in Europe leave the shores of Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea every month. Finding itself under pressure from the international community and unable to cope, the Tripoli government has relied on militias to help deal with the migration flow.

Marco secured repeated first-hand access to an unofficial detention camp in Tripoli, where he witnessed the local militia detain, abuse and mistreat migrants, forcing them to live in sub-human conditions. The militia claim to be bringing order to the country and to have the migrants' interests at heart, but what emerges in Marco’s film is a very different and shocking story.



Marco began working as a freelance photojournalist in 2006. He has worked in Italy, Iran, India, Brazil, Perù, Colombia, Thailand, Burma, Tunisia, Libya, Venezuela, Egypt, Armenia, Somaliland, Malawi, Niger and Iraq. In 2011 he covered the war in Libya on both sides: with the government in Tripoli during the NATO shelling campaign and with rebels on the Nafusa mountains, following their advance until the take of Tripoli. 

In 2014 he began working as a filmmaker. He has directed, produced and filmed video reportages in Libya and Niger about human traffic and in Venezuela about Chavista hardliners.

Judges Comments

“This showed the moral complexity of the Libyans, trying to care but not really sure how to deal with this problem. You got a real sense of the fear, insecurity and lack of hope these migrants have. There’s no UN agency to save or support them. No government really to help them either. They are trapped in this limbo.

The powerful testimony of the women describing the miserable conditions in the camp saying ‘my body is finished’ and ‘we’re like dead people here’ gave me goose bumps watching. You don’t just walk away from this film and forget it instantly, it really stays with you.”