Every single day, print and online media and TV broadcasters show images and footage of migrants and refugees adrift, salvage teams rescuing their corpses--alive or dead, from fragile boats that are often deliberately sunk by human traffickers near the coasts of a given country. Their dramas are counted –and told-- quasi exclusively in cold figures.
Though he is only 16 years old, Mohammad Yasin has been through hell and back. He recently survived a hazardous journey by sea, crammed into the cargo-hold of a rudimentary boat along with 115 others.
For a while it went unnoticed: a boatload of migrants here, a vessel full of refugees there. But since 2012, the complex and unregulated movement of human beings through South and Southeast Asia– and the fate of those who put their lives in the hands of smugglers and at the mercy of the high seas – is becoming bleaker with each passing day.
On Thursday, May 14, a group of journalists rented a boat from Ko Lipe, a small island in Thailand’s southwest Satun Province, and headed out into the Andaman Sea – a water body in the northeastern Indian Ocean bounded by Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Strait of Malacca.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam, which swept through the South Pacific Island state of Vanuatu in mid-March, has deepened hardships faced by people living in the informal settlements of the capital, Port Vila. Winds of up to 340 kph and torrential rain shattered precarious homes, cut off fragile public services and flooded communities with unsealed roads, poor drainage and sanitation.
"Of course I'm scared, but what else can I possibly do?" asks Ahmed, a middle-aged man seated on the carpeted floor of a hotel located on the southern edge of Afghanistan. He is bound for Iran, but he still has no idea when or how he’ll cross the border.
In the small rural village of Svetlaya Polyana, not far from the city of Karakol in Issyk Kul Province, north-eastern Kyrgyzstan, there is no sewage system and 70 percent of households lack access to hot water.
In her traditional orange headdress, Agaichetou Toure sits quietly in a waiting room in Kalaban-Koura, a popular neighbourhood on the outskirts of Mali’s capital Bamako.
Next time you visit Walmart and throw that packet of frozen shrimp in your shopping cart, pause a moment.