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“The boat sunk, my wife and children died. Out of 140 migrants, 19 survived, I am one of them.”

A male migrant from Mali in Tunisia, January 2017.

HARDSHIP

“I am originally from Mali but I grew up in Gambia. One day I decided to go back to my country and live there. I settled in Goa. I used to work in gold mining and earned my living very well.  Then I discovered that I am HIV positive, and I had to receive medication all my life. When international NGOs were present in Mali, they used to give us the medication for free, but one day because of the situation there, they left, and left us with no treatment, or in the hands of [local] doctors that made us pay for that treatment. I couldn’t afford that, especially as my wife along with my 3 children were also HIV positive.”

DECIDING TO LEAVE

“We decided to leave the country and go to Europe where we can have our treatment. I am 47 years today and it has been now 16 years that I am living with my illness. I didn’t leave Mali for economic reasons, my only motivation was due to my medical conditions. We took the journey to Libya, it took us 4 months. Once there we had to spend another 5 months in Sabrata because we had to gather the needed money to be put on a boat. We finally managed to get the money and we paid 2500 USD to get on the boat to Europe.”

WE WERE 140

“We were 120 people on that first boat. Once in the waters, the engine got spoiled and we had to return. The agent, whom arranged this for us, decided to take us to Zuwara to take another boat from there. He put me in the car boot, my wife and children sat in the front. In Zuwara we spent another month waiting for the new connection. Finally we were put on the second boat, it was already end of December 2016. We were 140 on that boat, a lot of Africans and around 42 migrants from Bangladesh.”

I AM ONE OF THEM

“We were very close to the international waters when the boat got attacked by Libyan gangs. They asked us to give them money and our phones. Once they got what they wanted they drilled the boat with a knife. The boat started to sink and with the bad weather conditions, people couldn’t handle it. A lot of people died, including my wife and children. Only 19 survived, I am one of them.”

 

January 2017 – Documented by MHub Data Focal Point in Tunisia – Rania Berro

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