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ALIOUNE

“I could already see myself in Europe. I really thought we were going to make it this time. Instead, I got caught and put in prison for the sixth time.”

Senegal

“Once my father died, as the eldest in my family, I decided to drop out of school and start looking for means to provide for my seven siblings. I then moved to the capital, found a job there and started sending my family money. After a year or so, when I had saved up enough money, I decided to try my luck for Europe.

I spent seven months in Algeria and a year and half in Libya. First time they caught me in Libya, I was on my way to get on the boat for Europe. We were about 60 people, half of them women. They put us all in a room with no windows and told us to call our families. I called my brother and he started crying. We both knew he didn’t have the means to pay for my ransom. They beat three people to death in front of my eyes. I thought I was going to die in there.

When someone came to pay the ransom for his friend, I told the guys we needed to attack the guard. We hit him and started running. I hid in an abandoned building until the following morning. The next day I called my mother to let her know I was alive. My brother sent me some money and then I worked for the next couple of months until I had enough to pay for the boat trip.

After finally getting on the boat, I spent the next 15 days lost at sea. Once again, they caught us and put us in prison. A few days later, we escaped again. When we got to the city centre, we met a man who was looking for people to work for him. When we arrived to his house, we realized we were being locked up again.

I told him I was poor, that my family had nothing, that this why I had left in the first place. I kept thinking to myself “God, what did I do to deserve this?”. After two months of torture, once my friend sent me some money, they finally released me.

I had managed to save up once more to cross to Italy. They stopped us as we were getting on the boat. This time I only spent three weeks in prison. However, every day in there felt like a year. After escaping, I decided that I had had enough and it was time to go back home. I told my friends I was leaving and they encouraged me to try again and to not get discouraged.

Here I was at sea once more. I could already see myself in Europe. I really thought we were going to make it this time. Instead, I got caught and put in prison for the sixth time. I have definitely learned my lesson. I am ready to go home.”

Copyright © 2017.International Organization for Migration Niger.