Not wanting to worry his family, 20-year-old Fresghy left Eritrea without telling anyone. More than a year later he found himself imprisoned in Libya. His only chance of release was if his relatives could raise the money to pay off his captors.
“I migrated from my country because there are too many problems. My family has no work and no salary – things are impossible. The only solution was to leave. I decided to do it by myself, without telling anybody.
When I reached a refugee camp in Ethiopia, I called my relatives and they told my parents where I was and not to worry about me. This was 18 months ago.
I spent two months in Ethiopia before heading to Sudan. I decided to work in Khartoum so I could send money to my family. I spent more than a year there. Sudan is not a peaceful nation, but there is the chance of work sometimes.
There are a lot of Eritreans in Khartoum, especially from poor families. They know that in order to go to Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea, they need money, so they stop in Khartoum to work. They know that if you go to Libya without money you will probably die.
I didn’t want to live in Khartoum because it is not possible to save money there. All you earn goes into rent and food. I couldn’t support my family from there.
So I went to Libya. I didn’t tell my parents I was going because they would have opposed me.
We went from Sudan to Libya in small containers, open at the back. The people were compressed in these containers, 30 to 40 people in each one. Many people fell off, but they didn’t get any help. They were left to die in the desert. Nobody can help you because no one knows where you are. Only the driver knows, but he says, “Leave him. Those who fall down must be left behind”.
I called my family when I was in Libya and asked my relatives if they could help me pay for the voyage to Europe. I had to do that because I was taken by Libyan people. They robbed me and I had no choice but to call my relatives.
People in Libya are unkind. They argue all the time and they animalise people. They put me in a closed compound. It was very hot. There was no air supply, no facilities, and if you were sick, nobody gave you medicine because nobody cared about you. They care only about money, not about the life of the man.
Many women who were with us were raped.
When we called our relatives on the telephone, we told them what Libya was like and asked them to please hurry up getting the money, otherwise they would kill us. Libyans want to scare us, and we automatically scare our parents.
For rich ones there is no problem. But for ones like me and my parents, it takes many months to gather the money.
Once my family had paid, they put me into a boat with 550 other people. It was very unsafe. There were too many people on it. I was on top of the boat, but down below it was very hot and people started having problems breathing.
Everybody felt afraid because the boat was not safe. They didn’t give us any life jackets, and I don’t know how to swim. If any problem had occurred, I would have had no choice but to die.
I have many friends and relatives who came to Europe before me. I knew how dangerous the travel is – they had told me on Facebook and Messenger. But I had no choice. In Sudan there is no peace. In Ethiopia there is no peace. In Libya there is no government. We decide to cross very hard countries and be transferred in an unsafe boat, but this is the only choice we have: to cross the sea by the help of God.
The only thing you are thinking about is how to help your family and how to get to a peaceful place where you can live by working.
My dream is to be able to provide for my family so that they will not be poor anymore.