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“Today I am free, I am in a democratic country, my life is not in danger anymore, I found peace, but I have lost my peace of mind, I have lost my happiness forever.”  A male migrant from Syria

When ISIS occupied his hometown, Ahmed (not real name) decided that the time to go had come. He was looking for safety and peace.

Difficult Decisions

“I cannot stop remembering [my wife] screaming my name. In 2014 when ISIS occupied Raqqa, my city, I left. My wife came along with me. I regret this every day. Our planned destination was Libya. We paid a lot to get there – 1200 USD each. Once there, I started working as a tile layer.”

In Search of Safety

“At first, life in Libya did not seem so hard. I earned good money. After a while, the situation changed: kidnaps, thefts, threats by locals were getting more frequent, and there was not as much work as there used to be. Our safety was our priority. Two years later, we thought going to the other side of the sea would be a good idea, to Europe. We only wanted to be in a safe country.”

 

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A reception centre for asylum seekers in Rome, Italy

 

Smugglers and the Journey

“Through a co-national in Europe, we obtained contact information of some reliable smugglers. We called them, they said that we should not be worried, that the journey through the Mediterranean Sea would be like a touristic trip, and that we would not even need life jackets. The smugglers asked for 1500 USD each. It was the summer season, the water looked calm, we drove to Sabratah.”

Loss

“It was midnight and a wooden boat was waiting for us. 28 people jumped in, 10 were children. The boat did not seem sturdy, but we did not have any choice. We stepped in the boat. We sailed in the darkness for, I would say, one hour, when water started to enter. The boat became totally unstable and eventually a wave capsized us. Four hours later, a rescue boat reached us.”

“During those 4 hours, I kept thinking my wife and I were going to die. The smuggler – an Egyptian – drowned, as well as a young woman from Libya and her two children. A Syrian woman and her daughter also did not make it. Aida [my wife] drowned as well. In Arabic ‘Aida’ means ‘the one who leaves, but who will return’. Today I am free, I am in a democratic country, my life is not in danger anymore, I found peace, but I have lost my peace of mind, I have lost my happiness forever.”

October 2016 – Documented by MHub Data Focal Point in Italy

 

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