As the world grapples with the migrant situation in the Mediterranean, Italy has put up a policy aimed at managing their influx into the country. Many die in the hands of smugglers or in the sea, when their boats sink. More are rescued off the Libyan or Italian Coasts.
In Gambia, one such immigrant tested the journey and learnt his lesson. Mustapha is now involved in sensitising youths of Gambia, on the risks and perils of being a migrant, after suffering abuses in Libya.
Mustapha is back home in the Gambian capital, Banjul. Back with nothing but bad memories of the journey to Europe, which he undertook a few months ago. He says that the human traffickers were not kind to him and his fellow immigrants.
“After reaching Libya, at the first checkpoint, they stripped us and took all of our money, blankets our bags – everything. They put us back in the pickup and said, ‘That’s our pay,’ before we entered Libya,” Mustapha told CGTN Africa.
While in Libyan detention, Mustapha says he saw the worst.
“Every day you hear gun sounds. You see people getting shot, people being beaten, people getting tortured, every day you see it. I never heard the sound of a gun until I reached Libya. In Gambia I never heard gunshots until Libya. And Libya – every day here, morning, and night, anytime. You would hear heavy weapons like RPG’s – boom! Until the house would be shaking.”
He managed to make a list of his fellow immigrants, whom he uses as a reference point, as he thanks fate for his safe return.
Together with his fellow returnee, Lamin, the two youngters use their bad experiences to educate their fellow youths against embarking on such journeys.
“Libya is like prison,” Lamin said in an interview with CGTN Africa.
“That’s why we’re sensitising all the young people so that they can stay and we can work on our future from here. We are going to help each other with this association so that we can try to take control of our future.”
“I would never redo it, I will never take this journey again. I will try and discourage everyone I know – even my enemy because it doesn’t work,” added Mustapha.
At least twenty thousand immigrants are being detained in Libya. While there are those who manage to cross into Europe through the Mediterranean, a lot more don’t manage it.
These two youngsters, would rather none of their peers embark on such a risky venture.