C: Age 20, at Via Cupa

C: Age 20, at Via Cupa


I fled from Eritrea to Sudan. But I couldn’t settle there, because I was always being harassed for being a Christian.  Even the police would rob and harass me.  A friend who stayed there has just been arrested and is being threatened with deportation to Eritrea.  So I decided to go to Europe, where I have two friends.  I heard some frightening stories about the travel route, but I didn’t believe them — I felt I just had to leave Sudan.

I spent twelve days in the desert with smugglers, going from Sudan to Libya.  If you’d ask for water, they would hit you; if you grabbed for it, they would cut off your arm.  They put gasoline in the water so that it burnt your lips and throat and you wouldn’t want to drink it.  Every three days you got food.  They rape the attractive girls.  They beat you daily when your money is late, or if you speak out of turn.  One day, in order to get a truck up a steep incline, they threw some of the passengers out into the desert and left them there to die.  When I arrived in Libya, they put me in a small dark closet and beat me until I came up with more money.  Then they transferred me to a place where I had to pay for the sea voyage.  They beat me on the sole of my foot, and I didn’t dare ask why or they would have shot me. Finally I set out from Libya in a small wooden boat crammed with 400 people, then was rescued by the Italian navy just as water was entering the hull.  When I arrived in Italy, Physicians for Human Rights gave me the crutches that I’m walking on.

My cousin arrived in Italy two months earlier.  He was beaten on the head in Libya, and he lost his mind. Now no one knows where he is.  A friend of mine is still stranded in Libya — he can’t leave because he has no one to pay to free him.  That causes me great pain, because I love him.  I feel that I have sinned because I have survived.

I would like to go to Germany, where I have friends.  I would like to have a family and a normal life.  But I would tell my friends in Eritrea to not come to Europe.