“S is 31 years old. He arrived in Italy a little over a month ago, having made an exhausting journey on foot from Pakistan to Milan, via the Balkan route. To make the journey even harder, one of his feet was horribly broken and went untreated."
On the Open Arms vessel, our cultural mediator Bader, who helped staff with the search and rescue, listened to the terrible testimonies of the 44 people rescued from a small wooden boat on Sunday night.
Among them is 16-year-old ‘A’: “I come from Mogadishu, Somalia. Before I arrived in Libya, I travelled through Ethiopia, Sudan and the desert for seven months. Once in Kufra, they captured me and put me in prison. I was stuck there for a year.
It was hell. They told me that if I wanted freedom, I would have to pay money, but I didn’t have any. So they tortured me – kicks, punches, they even used a knife to cut me. Here are my scars. When I tried to escape, I was taken again and sent to the detention centre at Triq al Sikka, which I escaped from after it was bombed. Now I’m happy because I’m finally safe. I thank God that I’m still alive, and far away from Libya.”
Salem is also amongst the rescued women, she’s from Eritrea and is 20. She did not travel alone, but with the child she is pregnant with. She was very worried on the boat. She was only able to recover her smile when staff on-board the ship carried out an ultrasound. She watched her little one on the screen, who was fortunately fine, and her eyes lit up.
“My husband couldn’t leave with me”, Salem told Bader. “There were too many people on the beach where we got on the boat, so he didn’t manage to get on-board.”
Today, ‘A’ and Salem, together with another 42 rescued people, were allowed to disembark in Malta.
Bader told them “Good luck” as they were being transferred to a patrol boat headed for the island that welcomed them. We hope that they find a life with dignity and rights, far away from the suffering and discrimination that denied them respect for human life.