Wael fled the war in Syria and like many of his fellow refugees went to Egypt. There he heard that people had crossed the sea to Europe and he decided to try. He made a deal with a smuggler who promised him he would have an easy trip on a big ship. With some other people, he went on a minibus to the seacoast near Alexandria. They were put in a small fisherman’s shed to wait for the boat. Then Wael started feeling that something was wrong.
“At the start we were around 50 people. Every 15 – 30 minutes, more people would arrive. I was confused and shocked. We were locked up for a long time. Imagine! We were 200 people! We reached a point where people fainted because of lack of oxygen.”
After a night of suffering, they were taken to the beach and told to board small boats that took them out to a bigger wooden boat. This was not the ship Wael had been promised and they were all sitting very tight and uncomfortably when the boat took out to sea. They sailed for eight hours until they came to a steel fishing ship, which they boarded. The crew tied the wooden boat to the ship and they set off in the direction of Italy. There was little food and the water on board was barely drinkable. After six days, they were told to get on board the small wooden boat again. They were given a navigator and a satellite phone and told that the Italian coast was two hours away. Then the ship left and they were on their own.
"Of course they lied to us. The phone wasn’t working and the GPS device wasn’t working. We sailed for almost 18 hours. We didn’t know which direction we were taking, where we were going.”
After 18 hours of sailing aimlessly, they saw a mountainous coast. It was Sicily. Then the Coast Guard and the Red Cross arrived. Today, if anyone is asking him about this journey, Wael will respond that it was a death trip.