photojournalist
Burkina Faso, Banfora. <br />
The women who work in the sugar cane plantations are waiting for the company truck to take them back to their village. For about 6 hours' work they earned on average € 0,60 a figure that guarantees neither acceptable living standards nor sufficient sustenance. Awaiting them at home is an afternoon toiling in their gardens and collecting water. The exploitation of the best land for cultivating non-endemic crops destined for export is on the causes of the food shortages that periodically afflict the Sahel area. It is from these difficulties in procuring minimal sustenance for oneself and one's family that the incentive to search for improved conditions overseas. Europe is the most cherished dream. Burkina Faso, Banfora. <br />
Marie works in a sugar cane plantation. She is taken to work at 5 o‘clock in the morning and a truck comes to pick her and her workmates up at midday. It takes about 3 hours to weed a 250 m row of sugar cane, and she has managed to weed two of them. Wages are negotiated on a day-to-day basis and usually those who are more seriously in need of work accept a lower rate of pay. The average wage is about € 0,60 a day. The plantations are owned by state-run companies in which international multinationals often have shares. Sugar cane cultivation requires excessive amounts of water and the deep wells used for irrigation deprive the local farmers of this precious resource. Burkina Faso, Zorgho. <br />
Aline Ouerdrago is thirteen years old. She lives with her mother, her brothers and her father’s other wife, who is also accompanied by her own relatives. Her father died several years ago and Aline’s family became a member of Acced*, an association which assists families in difficulty and also includes the Cefed* association. Iris Afrik is the African NGO which by supporting Cefed* helps  widows and their families through programmes of professional training, educational assistance, micro-credit and trade set-up. Without this support these women would risk marginalisation from a culture which is still too obtuse to recognise that they can be independent or run businesses. Aline ensures that her goats have a drink before shutting them into their pen. Her mother, Monique Ouerdrago, is the general secretary of Acced. *Acced: Association cri de coeur pour les enfantes déshérités. *Cefed: Centre d’éducation et formation pour les enfants en difficulté. Burkina Faso, Banfora. <br />
The waterfalls of Karfiguéla. The southern part of the country is rich in water and fertile land and this is where the plantations of cotton and sugar cane are largely concentrated. These crops damage the land, turning it to desert in a matter of decades and leaving the local farmers without fertile land to cultivate. The water used for irrigation of the plantations is drawn from very deep wells which dry out those of the neighbouring villages. Burkina Faso, Tièbèlè. <br />
A large Baobab tree on the edge of a millet field. Burkina Faso, Tiebele. <br />
Adjagou Kane is a Gourounsi woman, and she is shown here with her daughter, who smilingly carries the pots for water and millet flour for dinner. The child is too young to understand that they are supported mainly by Adjagou’s brother, who has emigrated to Norway. Adjagou Kane’s house is built in typical Gourounsi style. Burkina Faso, Bassi & Zanga. <br />
Omar Issouf is at home with his oldest son and his wife. They are waiting for the storm to pass, and hoping that it will bring enough water to nourish their plants. Omar is 25 years old and has 2 children. He dreams of coming to work in Italy. He has heard talk of a region where tomato pickers are paid € 20 a day and where the living conditions for immigrant workers are similar to those in his own country or in Ghana, where he has migrated to every year to work in the cocoa and coffee plantations. A year after this photograph was taken, thanks to the reservoir built by Bnd*, for the first time in their village history the men of Bassi and Zanga didn’t go to work in Ghana during the dry season, but stayed at home and worked their own land and sold their own produce at the local market. Omar is the oldest of the 20 children of Compaore Issouf, the chief of the Mossi people of Bassi and Zanga. Burkina Faso, Seno Oudalan province. <br />
The Gorom-Gorom road is subject to flooding during the rains and it is impossible to cross some of the bridges with the engine switched on because of the risk of damage from excessive water. The local population gathers near these bridges to help push cars and trucks across  to reach the more northern markets and countries such as Niger, which are also departure points for the trans-saharan migration routes. The fee for pushing a car out of the water is € 20, the equivalent of almost half a month’s average wage. Sometimes the water level is so high that the only way to reach the opposite bank is to cross the bridge on foot and catch another lift on the other side of the ford. Burkina Faso, Seno Oudalan province. <br />
The Gorom-Gorom road is subject to flooding during the rains and it is impossible to cross some of the bridges with the engine switched on because of the risk of damage from excessive water. The local population gathers near these bridges to help push cars and trucks across  to reach the more northern markets and countries such as Niger, which are also departure points for the trans-saharan migration routes. The fee for pushing a car out of the water is € 20, the equivalent of almost half a month’s average wage. Sometimes the water level is so high that the only way to reach the opposite bank is to cross the bridge on foot and catch another lift on the other side of the ford. Burkina Faso, Houet-Comoe. <br />
For long stretches between Bobo Diulasso and Banfora the rails are dug into the rock. This is the train used by the migrants heading for Niger from the West African countries. Burkina Faso, Banfora. <br />
The train from the Ivory Coast during its stop at Banfora station. The Abidjan-Ouagadougou line was built by the French during the colonial period and used principally for transporting goods from the inlands to the coast. Today it is mostly used by migrants at the beginning of their journey along the trans Saharan route towards  Libya and Europe. At each stop, the train is literally surrounded by traders selling water, fruit, fritters and anything else that passengers may need on the 40-hour trip to Ouagadougou. Bargaining is carried out directly from the train windows. Niger - Maradi, on the road from Nigeria. Passengers on an onion truck. Niger, Niamey - The banks of the River Niger. On Sundays many city dwellers escape from the city heat to the river banks. J.P. is a Burkinabe who interrupted his journey to Europe in Niamey. Now he earns his living by washing cars on the river bank. For lots of “aventuriers” it is inconceivable to return home empty-handed, so they will accept any type of work just to earn a little money. Niger, Niamey. The Petit Marché is open until after sunset and nearby Ave du Gountou Yena is busy with people carrying their purchases. Some migrants buy the wherewithal for their journey here, where prices are lower than in Agadez. Most of those who pass through Niamey come from the western African states, especially Mali, Burkina, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Ghana. Travellers from the southern states of Nigeria, Cameroun and Congo go via Birni N’Konni and Zinder, from where they make their way to Agadez either by  regular coach or by any means they can find. At the moment about half of all the migrants crossing Niger come from Nigeria, in particular from the central and southern parts of the country where poverty, backwardness, corruption and exploitation of the petrol fields create the conditions which contribute to the surge in migratory flows towards Europe. Niger - Niamey. <br />
At night, after separating objects that can be re-used from those to be burnt, youngsters set fire to the rubbish in the dumps of the capital. Amarou, aged 16, is a Malian lad who lives not far from the dump with other Nigerans. Amarou says he is ready to attempt the route to Europe, but without money he has no choice but to stay in Niamey. The fertility rate in Niger, the highest in the world [7,2 children per woman] and recent progress in the reduction of infant mortality [also the highest in the world], are causing serious social problems in the under-15 age-group. In Niger 49% of the population is currently under the age of 15. Niger, Turawet Oasis c.100 km from Agadez<br />
The convoy's first stop. Turawet is a small Air village with about 200 inhabitants near a military outpost. Every 2-3 weeks the villagers welcome between 3000 and 4000 people on their way to Dirkou. The migrants do not get off the trucks, preferring to guard their luggage from potential thieves, but some of them celebrate their success in setting off. The villagers have set up a few stands where food and  water can be bought. 100 km further, the convoy will be abandoned by the soldiers, and each truck will travel onwards independently. Four goods trucks were assaulted by bandits a few minutes after this photograph was taken. The convoy of 6th April counted about 47 trucks, of which at least 25 were carrying an average of 130 to 150 migrants. Many of them, once they reach Dirkou, will attempt the Lybia route. Niger - Ténéré Desert.<br />
Between the oasis of Fachi and Bilma. The camels' footprints merge with the tracks left by the trucks. Niger, Agadez. <br />
6th April 2009. After a wait of over 8 hours in desert sun the order to move has finally arrived. The soldiers use remote-controlled planes to ensure that the area is free of bandits or rebels and in the meantime, together with the police, they check the trucks and their passengers. This precaution was not sufficient to prevent an ambush the day after departure. Four trucks, officially transporting cigarettes, were assaulted and robbed. Fortunately no passenger trucks were involved in the episode. Despite the fact that we had only travelled a few kilometres when this photograph was taken, there was already a considerable layer of dust covering the clothes and skin of the migrants. The convoy of 6th April counted about 47 trucks, of which at least 25 were carrying an average of  130 to 150 migrants. Many of these, once they reach Dirkou, will attempt the Libya route. Niger, Agadez. <br />
6th April 2009. After a wait of over 8 hours in the desert sun the order to move has finally arrived. The soldiers use remote-controlled planes to ensure that the area is free of bandits or rebels and in the meantime, together with the police, they check the trucks and their passengers. This precaution was not sufficient to prevent an ambush the day after departure. Four trucks, officially transporting cigarettes, were assaulted and robbed. Fortunately no passenger trucks were involved in the episode. The convoy of 6th April counted about 47 trucks, of which at least 25 were carrying an average of 130 to 150 migrants. Many of these, once they reach Dirkou, will attempt the Libya route. Niger, Ténéré Desert.<br />
Between the well of Achegour and the area of Kaouar, 80 km from Dirkou. A moment of rest. Niger, Bilma - 11th April 2009. <br />
Camera, 33, from Guinea Conakry. 4 children, a wife and a degree in Sociology. Having set out in August 2008, he arrives in Dirkou in mid-September and leaves for Libya 10 days later. Near the Libyan border a Chadian gang assaults the jeep and takes Camera and some others to Chad, to work for the bandits. No further news arrives of the other passengers abandoned in the desert. Once free he moves on to Bilma, where he finds work under a soldier in the prefect’s headquarters. It is now December 2008. To return home he needs at least 50000 CFA [76€] , over 8 months' work. Camera is tired and has enured psychological suffering from his experiences. The prefect refuses me permission to take him to Niamey. I am reluctant to finance his return trip, but I am persuaded by an old photo taken just before he left home: the Camera before me was at least  20kg lighter than he was in the photo. I was certain that he would use the money for a second attempt at his Italian dream, but on May 9th  a Burkinabe friend told me he had been contacted by Camera who was in Ouagadougou on the way home. Niger, Ténéré Desert between the Achegour well and the Kaouar area, 80 km from Dirkou. <br />
Departure is before daylight, after checking bearings with the GPS. Niger, Ténéré Desert<br />
Lat: 18, 9961 - Lon: 12, 8932.<br />
M. K., special adviser on the Sahara area to the Niger Prime Minister, explains the Agadez departure mechanism. All the repatriation trucks  from Libya stop in Dirkou. As soon as the Dirkou authorities are informed that a convoy is about to leave Agadez for Dirkou, they send a repatriation convoy which will meet the other on its way in a tragic-comical exchange of positions. This is to avoid overcrowding in the Dirkou oasis. In April 2009, with about 8000 migrants, the oasis was approaching its full capacity level. In the background there is a repatriation truck from Libya. Niger, Ténéré Desert.<br />
Lat: 18, 9961 - Lon: 12, 8932<br />
Some youngsters celebrate their opportunity to reach Dirkou and then attempt to enter Libya and get to Europe. The repatriation trucks meet those on the way to Dirkou. As soon as the Dirkou authorities are informed that a convoy to their oasis is due to leave Agadez, they send a repatriation convoy which will meet the other in a tragic-comical exchange of positions. This is in order to avoid overcrowding in the Dirkou oasis. In April 2009, with approximately 8000 migrants, the oasis was nearing its full capacity. Niger, Ténéré Desert.<br />
Lat: 18,9961 – Lon: 12,8932<br />
Trucks arriving from Libya used for repatriations. All the trucks arriving from Libya stop in Dirkou. As soon as the Dirkou authorities are informed that a convoy to their oasis is due to leave Agadez, they send a repatriation convoy which will meet the other in a tragic-comical change of places. This is in order to avoid overcrowding in the Dirkou oasis. In April 2009, with approximately 8000 migrants, the oasis was nearing its full capacity. Niger, Ténéré Desert.<br />
Lat: 18, 9961 - Lon: 12, 8932<br />
A repatriation truck from Libya. All the trucks arriving from Libya stop in Dirkou. As soon as the Dirkou authorities are informed that a truck is about to leave Agadez for Dirkou, they send a repatriation convoy which will meet the other on its way in a tragic-comical exchange of positions. This is to avoid overcrowding in the Dirkou oasis. In April 2009, with about 8000 migrants, the oasis was approaching its full capacity level. Niger, Well of Hope 400 - 400 km from Agadez - 7th April 2009<br />
Obligatory stop on the second or third day of the journey. Objects abandoned by migrants passing through. Niger, Well of Hope 400 - 400 km from Agadez - 7th April 2009<br />
Obligatory stop on the 2nd or 3rd day of the journey. The graffiti on the wall indicate the origins, the hopes or the dreams of those who wrote it. Niger, Dirkou. <br />
A child's toy imitates a 3-axeled truck, like the ones used to cross the desert. In the background a typical Dirkou shop where, as well as canned food and biscuits, they also sell the 10 lt. water tanks used for the desert crossing. Niger, Dirkou. <br />
Nasser, 52, Chadian, is an electrical technician. He studied and worked for 2 years in Germany and for 1 year in Geneva. Then he returned home where he was part of the military police. Born of a Sudanese mother and Chadian father, he left his country for political reasons and because of his job he cannot now return there. By a curious coincidence his shop occupies the premises of an old travel agency, whose motto is still inscribed on the door: "Guaranteed express desert". He says he is too old to try and live in Europe again, and has settled definitively in Dirkou. Niger, Dirkou - Central market. <br />
Used parts of trucks and jeeps for sale. Niger, Dirkou. 9th April 2009. <br />
From the left Thomas [standing], 20, Bright 21, Kinsley 19. Respectively cook, mechanic, electrical technician. They are all Nigerian and shown in the room they share with another 5 fellow countrymen. They have been in Dirkou for 3 weeks and have already paid the 75000 CFA [114,5€] for the trip to Libya.They are just waiting for the driver they have paid to call them for departure. All 3 of them, qualified, are quite convinced that they will find a better social situation in Italy than In Nigeria, and a good job for which their studies have prepared them. They come from the south of Nigeria where corruption and the terrible political-social situation offer no possibility of development to those who remain in the country. If they are lucky, they will suffer neither breakdowns nor bandit attacks and arrive in the oasis of Al Gatrun 2 days after departure. There a policeman, usually by previous agreement with the jeep driver, will take the migrants, ask them to have 100-150€ sent from home, and then, once he has pocketed the money, send them on to the next oasis, where another policeman will do the same thing. There are at least 3 stages like this between Dirkou and Tripoli. They left for Libya with 27 other passengers in the late afternoon of Friday 10th April. Niger, Dirkou. <br />
Aboubakar, 30, Malian, shown amongst his belongings where he is living. He has been in Dirkou for 2 months and works for B.M. a local inhabitant, tending the garden and house. In a few months, once he has earned enough to be able to afford the journey to Libya his boss will pay him. He earns 10000 CFA per month [15,7€]. B.M. has another Malian lad, in addition to Aboubakar, and 5 Ivorians working for him, under the same conditions, on a new building. Their dream is to be able to reach Italy. Niger, Well of Hope 400 - 400 km from Agadez - 7th April 2009.<br />
Obligatory stop on the 2nd or 3rd day of the journey. The graffiti on the wall indicates the origins, the hopes or the dreams of those who wrote it. Charou Tchagam (sitting) is making for the oasis of Fachi. Mahamane Nour (lying down), the new prefect of Bilma, on the way to the area over which he will have "absolute control" for the next 5 years. Niger, Ayorou. <br />
Muhammed Ali, 33, recalls the 20 months spent in Lybia awaiting departure towards Italy. With a wife and 4 children, in 2000 he crossed the Sahara Desert on the Agadez-Dirkou route which at the time had only been in use for a few years. His truck carried 180 passengers, 8 of whom died after drinking putrid water drunk from a well in the Sahara. The journey to Tripoli took 28 days , including two weeks in Dirkou selling off clothes to obtain the money to continue the journey. In possession of  a tourist visa he was able to enter Libya officially, thus avoiding the "fraudeurs' " routes  which are frequented by the Tubu bandits to be found between Niger-Libya-Chad. Once in Tripoli, diffident of the Libyan and Egyptian mafia who organise boats to Italy, he tried in vain to obtain documents endowing him with status of political refugee or worker requested by an Italian company. The forgers of the documents were the anglophone migrancy organisers in Tripoli. Warned of an imminent police raid in the foyer where he was living, he managed to conceal his savings and after 7 days imprisonment in Zanzur he was repatriated . Many of the foreigners arrested were robbed of everything they had. Of his experience in prison he remembers his fear upon arrival there and the  sick or injured people with infected wounds and fractures caused by the dreadful lack of hygiene. Ali, who had never been inside a prison before considers  himself lucky to have survived, and has abandoned the idea of emigrating to Europe. Asked to recall a few moments of his journey in the Tenere he said: "The desert is an open-air tomb". Despite this story, Gibril, a 32-year-old friend and colleague of Ali, declares himself prepared to risk all in order to reach Europe and find a good job. Niger, Dirkou. <br />
Radi, Ivorian, 30, has been in Dirkou for 2 months. She works for O.K, a local inhabitant who also employs three other migrants from Cameroun in his kitchen garden. Radi manages O.K’s telephone centre. Migrant transit and the installation of repeaters has made telephone centres a booming business in Dirkou. Radi must also carry out the duties of half-wife to O.K, who already has two wives; Radi, says O.K., is a “distraction”. O.K is the man sitting next to Radi.
Transmigrations was realized in Africa, along one of the most epical human migratory trails, that leads from the dusty roads of the Atlantic coast to the ancient town of Agadez in Niger to then cross the emptiness of the Sahara Desert to the Mediterranean shores of Libya. An exhausting journey, peppered with dangers and hitches, which can last for months, but this does not dissuade thousands of young Africans from undertaking it.

In the countries touched by this route the last few years have seen a succession of wars, armed revolts and Al Quaeda infiltrations, but this has had no effect on the number of migrants setting off each month in search of work, urged by the unique, albeit remote, hope of reaching Europe. Before the beginning of the war in 2011 there were over one million citizens of sub-Sahara Africa in Libya - a huge number, especially in comparison with the almost 70.000 migrants that landed on the Italian coast from 2008-2009, the years of the greatest influx. It is estimated that 12% of all those who set sail from the African coast die during the crossing.

Transmigrations tells the stories of these migrants and especially of the "stranded", those who, having run out of money or lost the cash they need to continue the journey, are forced to work, often in slave-like conditions, hoping that their master will soon give them enough money to set off again.