Photographers' Blog

Piercing gaze after a dangerous crossing

Marsamxett Harbour, Malta

By Darrin Zammit Lupi

I don’t know his name. He’s just another guy sitting on a police bus looking out of the window. It was the same sort of scene I’ve photographed on countless occasions over the past decade or so. But this chap was looking intently and intensely, straight at me, through my camera lens and into my mind’s eye. His piercing, haunting gaze was burrowing itself deeper into the innermost recesses of my psyche as I keep looking back at the photo.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. I knew it was an image I would probably include in my edit but it wasn’t until I was looking at the photo on my computer screen that his eyes, his expression, the texture on the dirty windows, really got to me.

GALLERY: DANGEROUS CROSSING

Sixty-eight African would-be immigrants had just disembarked from the Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat that rescued them 70 nautical miles south of the tiny island of Malta bang in the center of the Mediterranean. Many were ill, injured, exhausted and barely able to stand.

The youngest was a day old, born out at sea to a Somali woman who must have been unimaginably desperate to attempt what is such a dangerous crossing from Libya to Europe. Over the past decade, thousands have died in the graveyard that the central Mediterranean has become.

The previous day, the Maltese government had threatened to immediately repatriate a group of new arrivals back to Libya without due process, drawing the ire of many NGOs who work in the immigration field, and leading to the European Court of Human Rights to issue an urgent interim order blocking the deportation at the eleventh hour. NGOs protesting outside the police headquarters where the immigrants were being held incommunicado had listened to their radios with bated breathe which turned to great relief as Prime Minister Joseph Muscat made a statement in parliament that he would respect the court’s decision. Sadly though, his threatened pushback, even if only a bluff to get the rest of the European Union to take notice of the problem Malta faces, has unwittingly fanned the flames of xenophobia and racism to a degree not evident before.

Migrants are deported to Guatemala

The mood was somber in Arizona as deportees filed up the stairs to the plane that would take them back to Guatemala. I remember a woman crossing herself as she looked up at the plane. Later I learned it was the first flight she’d ever taken.

Migrants deportation from Carlos Barria on Vimeo.

Most of the migrants I talked to had crossed the border into the United States on foot. One woman told me of being abandoned by a ‘coyote’ during the crossing after she injured herself. She said she had wandered for two days before U.S. border agents found her, dehydrated and weak. She also told me how one of the agents had cleaned and bandaged her feet– a kindness that clearly moved her.


When the plane landed in Guatemala, the deportees let out a subdued cheer and smiled nervously. It was a journey that would reunite them with families, even if it meant the end of a dream to get ahead in the United States. For others, it was a setback. Several told me they would try to run the border again.

The Life of an Aussie Immigrant

By Daniel Munoz 

After a 24-hour flight,  three almost deadly wrong-way turns while driving jetlagged in Sydney and a soccer game with the Thomson-Reuters team (of course we won 2-0), things are looking good in Australia.

Pic 1

When you come to Sydney from a country like Colombia your life changes in an unforgettable way, my first couple of hours here were full of exciting feelings. Tim Wimborne, my boss here, picked me up at the airport and took me and my wife straight to Lady Macquaries Chair, a park with the best view of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was the best possible introduction to this city and filled our eyes with tears of joy.

Pic 2

Shooting is no less joyful here with four swimming world records, the Olympic torch relay in Canberra, Cate Blanchet, nice standalones and the fashion week in Sydney makes for a file rich in colour and makes me happy too.