Story of a refugee

On the road for two years now

“A man from Eritrea is being hoisted onto the rescue boat. He possesses nothing other than the underwear on his body. He tells me his story. A story that surpasses my imagination.

For two years now, he has been on the road. He left his country in the hope of earning money to feed his family, which was left behind. In order to cross the Sahara, he bought a place in the trunk of a truck. The truck was so full, that people had to stand for the entire trip, for four days. Everyone was given 1.5 litres of water, no more. If someone else took your water, that was too bad. If you fell of the truck because of weakness or fatigue, that was too bad. The truck would not stop. The road was littered with bodies.
At a border crossing, all his possessions were taken from him. The money he had sown into his underwear was cut out, not so gently, causing a huge scar on his abdomen.
Libya was the worst. For years, migrants are being used as slaves there, for forced labour. The smugglers ‘own’ the people. Women are being raped all the time, and exchanged among the smugglers. A human life is no more than a means of power and money.

At some random moment, people are brought to the beach. This could be after a month, or after years. Nobody knows. People are being driven into sand holes and may have to wait for days on end without food or water, until the Libyan coast guard has left. Sometimes, groups come along to plunder the sand holes and kill everyone in there. Often these are child soldiers of 10 to 15 years old.
Survivors are herded onto boats. If you refuse, you are shot and replaced by someone else.

There is no turning back on this route. It’s this, or death.”

Text: Daniëlle van Winden
Photo: Kenny Karpov

Boat Refugee Foundation chooses to save these people from the water. Because we believe that every human life counts and no one deserves to die at sea. Please do not rush to judge about the right someone has to flee to Europe.

Will you help us, so that we can continue to save them?
Please donate on or make out your donation to NL97 RBRB 0918 9326 37 f.a.o. Stichting Bootvluchteling.