An SOS launched from somewhere off the coast of the small island of Lampedusa: Italy's southernmost territory and part of the European Union which lies south of African cities such as Tunis and Algiers. Captain Serra of the Coast Guard rushes off with his team to the rescue of yet another sinking boat crammed with refugees: certainly not the first of its kind since the upsurge of illegal immigration to Europe.
These men and women are rescued by Serra’s patrol boat and taken ashore, where they receive care and assistance at the island’s the First Reception Centre, run by a kind and strong-willed woman called Viola. Serra and Viola are lovers, but professional enough to put they jobs before anything else. Their main mission is saving human lives, and one of those lives is Dhaki’s. Barely an adolescent, Dhaki is fresh off Serra’s patrol boat and instantly taken under Viola’s wing. The boy was separated by his mother and sister on the Libyan coast and is unaware that they have fallen in the hands of illegal traffickers.
Meanwhile, in Lampedusa, things are tense. It is, after all, just a tiny island which struggles to offer accommodation to the thousands of desperate people who flock to its shores every day; the locals feel completely abandoned by the Italian and European authorities. Viola does her very best to preserve order and allow a peaceful coexistence, but it’s not a simple task.
The ensuing chaos and the escalation of conflicts between immigrants and inhabitant of Lampedusa stop only when a new emergency arises: another SOS from the sea.
Viola rushes to set up the first emergency facilities, while Sierra starts his toughest battle yet, against the waves, time and the imminent risk of death. This time, however, they are not alone: the whole island of Lampedusa rushes to help and support them in any way they can. A whole island engaged in a desperate and brave attempt to save human lives.