Dunia and Ahmed are a married couple from Yemen living in Egypt. When the war started, they decided to flee to avoid their children being recruited by one of the fighting parties. The journey to Egypt took a month. The sea crossing to Sudan was difficult, the boat was overloaded, and they had little food and water. The smugglers were brutal and were hitting anyone who complained. After spending some time in Khartoum, they continued towards Egypt on a pickup truck.
"We were 35 - 40 people in the car. The children sat in the middle, the women around them. The men sat on the edges with their legs out. The car never stops in three days, even if someone falls.” Recounts Ahmed.
After a year in Egypt, they tried to realise their dream of going to Europe. A smuggler told them there was an opportunity to travel to Italy on a ship as part of the crew. They were put on covered trucks with many other people and drove for several hours to an unknown place. They thought they were going to the beach at Alexandria, but when the trucks stopped, they found themselves surrounded by armed men who forced them into a house.
“First thing when we got to the apartment, the gang locked the door and pulled out the knives. Don’t move, don’t do anything! My children were crying. Stop your children crying, you mother of six!” Recalls Dunia bitterly.
They were detained under horrifying conditions, beaten, and given electric shocks to force them to call relatives for money. After a month they were released and returned to Cairo, having been robbed of their money and belongings. Their dream of going abroad had disappeared like a mirage in the desert.