Inside The Perilous Journey Of Migrants Across The Mediterranean

04/20/2015 02:56 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2015

More than 700 migrants were feared dead on Sunday after their ship sank off the Libyan coast. The victims were on their way from North Africa to Europe. One survivor told the UN's refugee agency that the boat capsized when many aboard moved to one side after spotting another ship that could possibly rescue them.

The tragedy was one of the latest in a string of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this month. Because of warming weather and calm seas, a growing number of migrants are trying to make the treacherous crossing, risking everything in hopes of reaching Europe. Sunday's death toll, if confirmed, would put the number of people who lost their lives while attempting to make the crossing this year at over 1,500.

Pope Francis called on the international community Sunday to act decisively to prevent further tragedies. "They are men and women like us, our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war," the pope said. "They were looking for a better life."

The photos below give just a glimpse of the perilous journey tens of thousands of people embark on each year and the hardship that often follows once they made it safely across.

WARNING: Readers may find some of the images disturbing.

  • Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
    A boat carrying migrants arrives in Lampedusa, Italy, on June 21, 2005.
  • Costas Metaxakis / AFP / Getty Images
    A coast guard officer looks at a navy ship towing a Kiribati-flagged ferry carrying some 700 migrants off the Cretan port of Lerapetra, on Nov. 27, 2014.
  • Sergio Camacho / Getty Images
    A rescue worker tends a young migrant girl in the port of Tarifa after she was rescued by a Spanish coast guard vessel on Aug. 12, 2014.
  • Alfonso Di Vincenzo / AFP / Getty Images
    Some 500 Syrian migrants arrive aboard the Ezadeen ship in the harbor of Corigliano, Italy, on Jan. 2, 2015.
  • Giovanni Isolino / AFP / Getty Images
    Migrant families wait to disembark from an Italian military ship after their arrival in the port of Pozzallo, Sicily, on July 2, 2014.
  • Angela Rios / AFP / Getty Images
    Migrants sit atop a border fence separating Morocco from the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla on Feb. 19, 2015.
  • Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty Images
    Migrants who survived an incident near the island of Farmakonisi arrive at the harbor of Piraeus, Greece, on Jan. 23, 2014.
  • Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
    Men embark on a ferryboat leaving for a temporary holding center for foreign nationals in Sicily on June 17, 2005.
  • Mahmud Turkia / AFP / Getty Images
    Rescue workers pull the bodies of migrants onto shore east of Tripoli, Libya, on August 25, 2014.
  • Alfonso Di Vincenzo / AFP / Getty Images
    Syrian migrants arrive aboard the Ezadeen ship at the harbor of Corigliano, Italy, on Jan. 2, 2015.
  • Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
    An Italian Customs Service boat takes migrants on board off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, on June 10, 2005.
  • Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
    Men wait to be sent to a temporary holding center for foreign nationals on June 10, 2000, in Lampedusa, Italy.
  • Giles Clarke / Getty Images
    Recently arrived and rescued North African men await processing by Italian immigration authorities in Sicily on Oct. 15, 2014.
  • Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images
    A shipwrecked woman holds her child after disembarking from a rescue vessel in the port of Lesvos island, Greece, on April 17, 2015.
  • ALBERTO PIZZOLI via Getty Images
    Women wait at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily on Feb. 20, 2015.
  • Tullio M. Puglia via Getty Images
    Migrants wait at a fenced area as they prepare to board a ship on Feb. 20, 2015, in Lampedusa, Italy.
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