MALAWI. Lilongwe. June 2015. Maula Prison.
Tasfaya Lanago is 18 years old. He left Ethiopia due to economic hardships and arrived in Malawi in December 2014. He was travelling with fellow Ethiopians. Upon arrival in Malawi he was arrested for illegal entry and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment at Maula prison in February 2015. He will finish his sentence in July 2015. His experience in prison has been terrible as food is inadequate, sleeping conditions are poor, lack of hygiene and lack of support economically as he does not have any relative or friend outside the prison here in Malawi. He appealed to the Malawi Government to release them as repatriate them back to Ethiopia as he felt their imprisonment was illegal.
He has sores due to poor sleeping conditions: as most prisoners he sleeps on cement floor, next the the chamber that is used as a toilet, and usually sleeps on one side of the body. He gets treated at the prison clinic which is being run by MSF.
«The place where I come from [Hosana] is mainly countryside and people do farming. In my family we are 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls. Only my father works, he has a small business, selling things. All is not enough for us. Most of my brothers go to school, I decided to move out. No food there. Continuous drought. I worked in South Sudan, in Kastam, for two years. I was moving around, doing whatever I found: farming, small shops, and transporting goods. But there…ah!...there is not a peaceful country. And it is not easy to have stable job: people are bad, they don’t like us to stay, and they are always in war […] I get enough to move again, and through South Sudan I went to Uganda and then to Kenya. I was having some little money, enough to pay a truck to Tanzania. Yes…I wanted to go to South Africa because there I can work and do real money. […] When I arrived in Malawi I was caught. Before, what happened is that I staid 15 days in Dzaleka Camp (UNHCR-managed refugee camp in Malawi) and did little work. I changed some money I had and paid a truck. We were stopped by the Police in Deza and they caught me. They brought me to the Police Station where I stayed for three days, when Immigration came. They brought me to Maula…it was…I came in October 2014 in Malawi…I was arrested sometime around November, December, after one month, I mean. […] I wasn’t brought to Court, no. Here in Maula, Immigration always says: “You will be repatriated! Tomorrow, tomorrow…!” Ah! Tomorrow, tomorrow, always this they say!! It’s months I am here; nine months I think? how long I have to stay?
If you ask if I would do what I did again…no…no…ah...no…I would stay in Ethiopia. This prison is terrible. I thought Africans were all brothers, but now…you see. We don’t have food, not clothes, or soap. They are killing us. If I knew this before….no…ah! »