Work / Photography

The human stories behind the migrant crisis, captured by Daniel Castro Garcia

Photographer Daniel Castro Garcia started his Foreigner project in reaction to the sensationalist photojournalism he saw dominating the media around the migrant crisis. “I did not believe in the simplistic, dramatic and provocative images I was seeing,” he explains. Daniel and his studio partner Thomas Saxby therefore stationed themselves in southern Italy to document the events in their own way, which we featured here in April 2016.

Since then, Daniel has won BJP’s International Photography Award and received the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund for Humanistic Photography, as well as receiving financial support from the Magnum Foundation Fund to continue the project into a second phase. This next chapter, shown here, focuses on Sicily. It’s called Foreigner: I Peri N’Tera, which translates as “feet on the ground”, a phrase Daniel explains is “used to ensure people don’t get carried away with their hopes and dreams… a provocative title investigating the reality of life in Sicily for those who survive the journey to Europe”.

Still dedicated to telling the human stories behind the crisis, this latest work explores the psychological impact of the journey migrants make, how the subjects deal with a new concept of personal identity, and their integration within a new community. Here, Daniel tells the individual stories behind each image. In some images the names have been removed to protect the children’s identities.


Mr. Happy
Lampedusa, Sicily, Italy, January 2017

Mr. Happy, from Nigeria, spoke of his delight to have been so warmly received by the Christian community in Lampedusa. At the church in the main square, volunteers hand out clothing and rosaries for anyone in need.


A. Praying
Aidone, Sicily, Italy, June 2017

A. from Gambia is an unaccompanied minor currently residing at the Zingale Aquino Reception Centre for Unaccompanied Minors. The centre is home to 12 sub-Saharan boys aged between 15 and 17 years of age. There is very little for them to do with no structure, education or activity programs. The building was originally used as housing for nuns and Roman Catholic memorabilia has a heavy presence in every room. 11 of the boys are Muslim and pray in a make shift mosque. Their faith serves as a means of strength and hope.


Somaro, Bouba and Abdoul
Lampedusa, Sicily, Italy, January 2017

Somaro, 19, Bouba, 19, and Abdoul, 22, arrived on the island of Lampedusa one week prior to this image being taken. They experienced a particularly rough journey and all expressed their trauma of what was faced at sea. Usually vessels leave Libya in the “peek season” between May and September when seas are calmer, but in this case the traffickers forced them to take the journey. They had little information regarding their situation in Lampedusa and did not know when they would be transferred to mainland Italy.


Boat Graveyard
Lampedusa, Sicily, Italy, January 2017

The hull of a migrant/refugee boat which now rests in a large boat graveyard in a secluded area of the island. Over one hundred people are often packed into the hull of these boats at great risk to themselves. These are the “cheap seats” and passengers face multiple risks such as hypothermia, asphyxiation from engine fumes and chemical burns from petrol mixing with seawater.


Catania, Sicily, Italy, June 2017

Catania, Sicily, Italy, June 2017

Enoch, 16, from Eritrea, arrived at the Port of Catania two days prior to this photograph being taken. I found him sat in a bus shelter with two other underage boys, next to an abandoned car park where I had photographed other Eritrean migrants in the summer of 2015. Eritrean migrants regularly refuse to give their fingerprints to Italian authorities upon arrival and prefer to sleep rough until they are sent money to catch buses to northern Italy and cross the border. Usually their hope is to enter the asylum process in France, Germany or Sweden.


Mohammad Ali Bah
Rome, Italy, February 2017

This portrait of Mohammad Ali taken on the banks of the Tiber River, Rome. I first met him in June 2015 when he was living in the C.A.R.A. di Mineo Reception Centre in Sicily. He had a very difficult time there and decided to leave and try his luck elsewhere in Italy. Originally from Sierra Leone, he was separated from his family as a child and he experienced significant physical abuse during the civil war. He still suffers extreme pain from the consequences of his injuries and does not have any contact with his family.


Aly Gadiaga
Messina, Sicily, Italy, June 2017

Aly left Senegal and spent three years travelling to Libya, washing dishes in Mali and Burkina Faso in order to earn the money to board one of the dangerous pick-up truck convoys and cross the Sahara Desert. He has lived in Catania for nearly five years and has only recently received a work permit. The breakthrough however does not relieve the difficulty of his situation. Finding employment as a young African man is extremely challenging in Sicily. He recently attended a trial shift at a restaurant and was dismissed before starting. The reason given to him was that he is black.
Everyone knows Aly as “Gucci”, a slang term for “good” or “alright”, because of his positive attitude. He has not seen his family for over eight years.