“The journey in the Libyan desert was more difficult than the sea,” says Baylon. “At sea, you face either life or death. There’s no suffering like the desert. I have watched people die whom I couldn’t save,” he adds.
Baylon, in his early 20s, was born in Sudan to Eritrean refugees. While in Sudan, he got into a conflict with the law authorities who threatened to deport him to Eritrea. He escaped prison, and within two days he had started on the perilous journey to Libya.
“We were in the desert for fifteen days,” he says. “You see people dying around you as if it’s a normal thing. It’s as if animals are dying.”
In the hands of Libyan traffickers, Baylon was tortured, shot at, and humiliated. Throughout the journey across Libya and the desert, the traffickers shot at the refugees indiscriminately and at the slightest agitation. Everyone was gripped with fear, not knowing whether or not they would be alive by the end of the day.
“They beheaded one of my friends in front of my eyes,” he recounts, his eyes distant and in despair. “We were beaten hard before boarding the trucks. As a result, one of the refugee’s hands was broken,” he adds.
Once in Italy, Baylon decided to continue on with the aim of getting to the UK.
“After staying at the camp for 14 days, I decided to move on because I’d heard they only give you a residence permit, but not accommodation or work,” he says. “I heard that I would live on the street.”
Life took a difficult turn in the port city of Calais, in France, where crossing over to the UK revealed itself to be a hazardous task. Baylon was repeatedly caught by the police as he attempted to make the crossing. He lost his friend, who died from electrocution while sitting atop a train.
Despite such hardships, the UK, which he so much had yearned for, turned out to be nothing like he’d imagined.
“I took all these risks to come to the UK because I’d heard that in Italy I would sleep on the streets,” he says.
“After I got here and had the interview, I was rejected.” He adds brokenly, as tears well up in his eyes.
Baylon is currently facing the possibility of deportation back to Sudan.