‘Aware Migrants’ is a new campaign that has emerged from the stories of migrants who were assisted by and spoke to IOM in Italy, after they were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. The campaign aims to inform people who are considering migrating irregularly across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea about the perils of irregular migration.

As IOM, our experience and closeness to migrants makes us aware of the risks that they undertake to reach Europe. We know how dangerous the Mediterranean Sea is and also that the journey across the Sahara desert could even be more dangerous. We do know that the Mediterranean Sea continues to be the most dangerous body of water in the world and that more than 3,000 migrants and refugees have already died this year alone – despite commendable ongoing search and rescue efforts by governments and civil society and attempts to reduce loss of life.

These journeys are facilitated by unscrupulous criminals who exploit desperate migrants’ hopes, putting their lives at risk.

For several years now, IOM has been tracking the movements of migrants along these routes and we are too aware of the risks that men, women and children are taking. How hopes of a better future can quickly turn into a nightmare.

It seems incredible that many are not aware of the risks of irregular migration. All too often, the migrants we talk to tell us that the journey and experiences were far more dangerous and more traumatic than they expected.

Too often when they arrive, they inform their families that they are safe but do not tell them of the difficulties and the suffering along the route. That they may not want to share these experiences is understandable.

However, we have a responsibility to inform those that do not know but should. With Aware Migrants we inform them about the risks and the dangers through other migrants who have attempted or made the journey. We are particularly concerned about gender based violence and the risks taken by ill-informed unaccompanied migrant children.

We have a moral obligation to inform them, in detail, about what the journey entails. They have the right to make a more informed decision.

That is what Aware Migrants is about and we hope that it will help any would-be migrants take decisions that protect them from unspeakable suffering and too often death. We must simultaneously continue to work on providing safe and regular migration and transform dangerous, irregular migration to safe, regular and for the benefit of all.

You can watch the migrants’ testimonies here.