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“More than 100 of us were on that little boat, so many that four people literally sat on my wife’s pregnant body, flattening her, and she began to vomit blood.…’

Sunday L. is from Nigeria and decided to leave his country along with his wife in hopes of finding a better life together. They immediately realized that their journey would be much harder than expected.

To leave for a better life

“In Nigeria, I used to work as a truck driver, and I used to travel all over the country. I had a good life, but my wife’s family had never accepted our marriage. They were giving us problems, so I suggested that we move to Libya. I just knew that Libya was a safe place, and that there were plenty of job opportunities. Believe me, I did not have any idea of the actual country situation. If I had known, I would have gone somewhere else.”

The way to the Desert

“We took a bus to reach Kano, which was so crowded that we had to stand for 12 hours. Can you imagine that? Luckily, my wife was not pregnant yet. From Kano, we continued on to Agadez, in Niger, by car. When we crossed the border, my wife hid in the trunk. Then we traveled through the desert by Jeep. We had no idea what we were going to encounter. We travelled for 9 days, 30 people packed like sardines in one jeep. We suffered thirst and hunger. The driver was going too fast, but, if you asked him to slow down, he would beat or kill you.”


Photo of an overcrowded boat filled with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers taken by a migrant from the deck of a rescue boat – taken by an anonymous migrant and shared with MHub. 


Once in Libya

“Once in Libya, we stayed in Tripoli, where I had four jobs, so we had no economic problems. I could pay the rent of my house and support my wife. But we did not have any freedom. My wife could not go out on the street, because she was black. When they saw her, they called her ‘whore’ and spit on her. Once, they  even threw rocks at her. She started to suffer from depression and to develop an alcohol addiction. One day, serious fights started in the city. Some locals came knocking at our house, and they told us to get out of the country. They said that if we gave them all our money, they would save our lives in return. We were especially afraid because my wife was pregnant, and we decided to trust them. We had no alternative. They took us to the coast on a big jeep with many other migrants. We were so scared. We had no idea of what was going on.”

Toward the Sea

“They told us to jump on a little boat. ‘What?!’ None of us agreed, so they started beating us badly, forcing us to go. They shot one boy who refused to get on the boat. More than 100 of us were on that little boat,  so many that four people literally sat on my wife’s pregnant body, flattening her, and she began to vomit blood. After five hours on the open sea, we caught sight of an Italian rescue boat. It is only thanks to God that we are still alive, and that, despite what we went through, my wife gave birth to our beautiful baby, Joy.”

August 2016 – Documented by Angela Tullio Cataldo, MHub Data Focal Point in Italy