The Italian news outlet L’Espresso has just released the most haunting phone call you’ll ever hear. The conversation is between Mohammed Jammo, a refugee announcing himself to be a doctor, and the Italian authority responsible for rescuing migrants trapped at sea.
Before listening please be aware, the general sentiment is ‘your lives are not our problem. Call Malta.’
“We are dying. Please. We are dying.”
The phone call starts with a relatively calm Jammo describing the predicament. He understands the gravity of the situation, but he tries to keep his cool.
He explains that there are 300 people on board and some 100 children. He asks for help as he explains that the ship is already sinking. On the other side of the line he’s met by stoic, monotone responses asking him basic questions.
His panic levels start to rise. “I swear to you we are in a very hurry (sic). I’m a doctor please. The boat is going down.
“We have no captain, the captain ran away.”
After hearing nothing he calls back. “Is anyone coming for us?” The answer was clearly a no, as the Italian coast guard now tries to pass off the desperate doctor to the Maltese authorities.
“I give you the number of the Maltese authority – cos you are near Malta.”
His call to Malta is not recorded, but it seems to bear no fruit. He calls back to explain that the Maltese authorities have informed him that he’s nearer to Lampedusa than Malta. Later recordings show the Maltese had already started mobilizing to try and help the overloaded vessel, but the Italian ship which was stationed nearby refused to help as “its job is to spot new targets”.
Desperate and abandoned Jammo begs for any help they can give. He explains that he has no credit left on his phone, and that the line is about to go dead. “You have my number. Please call me you. Please”. Despite the heartbreak in his voice, he’s hit with another: “You are talking with Italia, but you have to call Malta.”
The conversation goes on, but we all know how it ended. The tragedy that took place in October 2013 saw hundreds die after being abandoned at sea for five hours.
This gut-wrenching exchange isn’t easy to listen to, but we cannot let ourselves play it off as more white noise in a sea of painful cries for help.