Maryam is a young Somali woman who lost her family in the civil war. She was facing many problems and difficulties and decided to travel to Europe. She reached Egypt, and in Alexandria she boarded a smugglers’ ship.
They were 150 passengers on board, but after two days, 400 more people joined them. The ship was now dangerously overloaded. When they got out to sea, it capsized when too many people went over to one side of the ship. Maryam fell into the water. Her hair was caught in the propeller, but she managed to get free.
“I had a life vest and managed to come up to the surface.Some of the other passengers, some men, tried to take the life vest from me, but they couldn’t. I got rid of them and was carried away by the waves.” She recounts.
She was floating helplessly for 11 hours. She saw people struggling to keep swimming, then giving up and disappearing into the deep. She was saved when an Egyptian boy close to her saw a fishing boat and shouted for help.
“I was seeing this person dying and that one dying. I was seeing people drowning and then they disappeared from the surface of the sea.Then I saw an Egyptian boy and he called the rescue. He shouted to them with a strong voice, they heard him, and they came and took us.We were the only ones that were rescued alive by this fishing boat. The sea was full of dead bodies.”
Fishing boats were dragging dead bodies in their nets and taking them ashore. On the beach, Maryam saw bodies lined up next to each other. Among them she recognised one of her friends. She covered her face with her scarf. The bodies lying side by side in the hot sunshine is a scene she will never forget.