Said is a young Somali who was dreaming of going to Europe. He wanted to work there as a businessman and then return home help his country. Many of his friends had travelled to Europe and told him how wonderful life there was.
Said contacted a smuggler and was taken to Yemen on a boat. It was a stormy crossing and when he arrived, he found himself in the hands of ruthless traffickers who treated people like slaves. He was kept a prisoner for two months before he could continue the journey.
He then crossed the sea again, to Sudan, where he was put on a pickup truck with many others. They were taken through the desert towards Libya. The drive was a nightmare, the heat was unbearable. If someone collapsed and fell off the car, they would not stop to pick him up.
In Libya, Said was forced to call his family and tell them he was being held captive and had to pay a ransom of USD 10,000. His family were poor and had to sell their property to get him released.
Finally, Said was able to board a smugglers’ boat to Europe. It was a small inflatable boat and they were driving for 18 hours with no sense of direction. At last, they were picked up by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken into detention. Conditions there were awful, and when Said was given the opportunity to be repatriated, he gladly accepted. He returned to Somalia empty handed after a horrible journey. He felt shame because of the harm he had caused his family.
Have a similar experience?