Source: Telling the Story
Three Eritreans: Enough is enough, stop smuggling now!
Three young Eritrean men are sitting in a refugee reception centre in Malta, discussing their experiences travelling with smugglers through Sudan and Libya. Abraham, Berhane, and Kidane all faced the most horrible situations on the way. They survived and managed to reach Europe, but many others did not. Some died, others are still being held prisoners by ruthless traffickers.
“Just because we made it to Europe, we shouldn’t forget what happened to us back there and shouldn’t forget our brothers and sisters. Because we know how it is back in Libya. We know how they are living at this moment. What their daily life looks like.” Says Kidane.
“As for our brothers and sisters we were together with during good and bad times and are still in Libya, I pray they would find a way out of there.” Berhane says.
The three friends agree that to leave your home and go to live in another country is never easy. Sudan, where they stayed for some time, was a difficult place. There were no jobs, and it was impossible to live a normal life. That is why they decided to go to Europe. They had seen pictures and messages on social media from people who had reached Europe, boasting about their good life there. They contacted a smuggler and set off towards Libya, each of them going separately. Then the nightmare began.
“The route from Sudan to Libya is full of extreme difficulties and challenges to the extent that you’d think you won’t make it. Our brothers would fall and die of thirst. You just leave them there, you don’t even bury them properly. We dumped many of our brothers and sisters on the way. The Sahara is difficult.” Kidane recalls.
When they arrived to the smugglers’ camp, they were held in detention until they had managed to get enough money from their families to pay ransom. Kidane was a prisoner of the smugglers for a year, Berhane for two years. They were brutally beaten and mistreated.
“When we arrived in Libya, they told me to pay USD 1,600. I couldn’t pay that much money. They were torturing us, they were dropping hot melted plastic on our backs, beating us with plastic rods, to make us pay.” Says Abraham.
After their release from the smugglers’ camp, the three friends decided to cross the sea together. They were put out to sea in an old wooden boat that was leaking. They were three days at sea, with no food and no water to drink. Some of the passengers died. Today, the three friends are earnestly advising other people not to go on this dangerous journey. They say enough is enough, irregular travel through Libya should stop now.
“We want to say it’s enough. Enough with taking the Libya route. It should stop with us.” Berhane says.
“What I want to tell you is, we know what happened to us and what we had to go through. Only those who’ve been through it would know about it. So, my brothers, what I want to say at the end is, please, all the bad things that happened to us should stop with us.” Says Kidane.