Gabriele François Casini/MSF
Abdu – 34 years old from Gambia.

My brother was in Libya and I wanted to find him to get to Europe together, so I went there. In Libya there are a lot of bandits that attack you and steal everything you have. They harass you, beat you and can even kill you. There’s no freedom in Libya.

Often people that pretend to be police or army, but are neither, kidnap you and try to extort money from you to let you go. If you have no money they beat you or kill you. I have been kidnapped several times in Libya.

I was often imprisoned in houses. They were never real prisons or camps. These houses are full of armed men and women. Everybody has guns and knives, even young kids. They want your money and they beat you up. Every day they would ask for money and every day they beat you. If you have no money your life doesn’t have value for them. If you are lucky you know people that will pay for you. I was lucky.

There are many people that are put in warehouses while they wait for the departure. The journey on the boat is a question of life and death. You’re on a small boat without any safety measures and with so many other people. I was very aware that I could have easily died at sea but I told myself that I had to leave, I had no choice. If God allows me to live, it means I have a purpose. It is destiny.

We go away from our country because we have no choice. We need to earn money for our families. We don’t want to get the Europeans tired of us, to overwhelm them, but we have no choice. We risk our lives to help our families, or neighbours, our friends, our parents and our brothers. That’s why we embark on this journey.