EUROPE MALADY—A WATERY GRAVE
Libya has become a ‘hell place’ of desperate immigrants, desperate enough to risk the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe and hotbed of human traffickers. The pitiable sufferings of African immigrants in sex slave camp have to garner international outcry.
I started this article in previous editions, so will continue from the last edition. You could request for the previous edition on this platform.
Sex trafficking is a menace and an evil of modern-day slavery; another lady shared her experience:
“I am 24 years old. I am from Delta State but I was born and brought up in Benin and my family members are here in Benin. I paid N1million to a Nigerian agent who told me that he would take me to Germany. I first gave him N600,000 and I later paid him N400,000. The Arabs don’t have mercy for anyone. Whether you are a woman or man, they molest and rape you. Sometimes they come to our halls and say, “sogo, sogo, sogo, Nigeria people sogo.” That means that the girls should come out. They take the girls out and sleep with them or rape those who did not agree to their demands. The most horrible thing is that they don’t even sleep with the girls in the right place but in the anus. I was not told these things that I am telling you; I saw them with my eyes. I saw many people who died as well. Sometimes their police would burst our camps and fire shots in the air. Of course, commotion will follow and people will start running helter-skelter. Some women, who lost their children in the process, never saw them. The experience was very horrible. I will not wish my enemy to undertake the journey to Libya. For those girls thinking about it, they should just stop now when it is not late yet.”
A man shared his experience:
“The road to Libya is very dangerous. We moved from Nigeria and stopped over at Agadez in the Niger Republic, where we met citizens from other Africans countries also travelling to Libya. From there, we entered a truck to Duruku, which is a transit camp and spent about two or three days there before getting a vehicle to Libya. Most of the guys and drivers taking people to Libya are rebels and bandits. Often, they rape women and kill travellers who had no money to give them. These rebels and bandits sometimes abandon their vehicles and passengers on the pretence that they were looking for water. After waiting for days without seeing them, the people would resort to trekking. Most of them die while trekking because you can’t get food or water in the desert. I was in Libya during Muammar Gadafi, but it was on my second journey after rebel took over the entire country that I experienced torture at the camp in Libya. When we got there, they asked us to pay 2000 Cefa. Those who didn’t have the money were asked to labour for it. They were asked to break stones into pieces which they used in building houses. The most dangerous part is crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. If the boat or balloon sinks, it’s over, while everyone is also at the mercy of the tide.”
A teenager narrated her ordeal:
“I left my village in Benin last year after finishing my secondary education. My parents made arrangements for me to travel with a woman whose daughter was in Italy. To take me across the sea, my parents paid about N250,000 to the woman. I spent some weeks with the woman before I later joined others on a bus to the northern part of Nigeria. About 150 of us who started in Nigeria died of hunger and thirst in the desert. There was no water and food. Somehow, about half of our group finally arrived at a place they said was Libya territory after several weeks. That night, we were somewhere in a village when we heard that some men were looking for us. We ran in different directions. I was unlucky as I was among 12 females and five males caught by the men. They loaded us like chickens into a truck and drove off. We finally arrived somewhere where we were again taken into the forest. In the morning, they matched us into an open space where they divided the girls into two groups. In my group were seven girls. The other girls were led away and I never saw them again. Our captors, nine of them, looked like Boko Haram. They lined us up before a bench, with which they raped us serially. I was number four in the row. They told us to kneel and hold the bench. Then, the nine men took turns to rape each of us, in the vagina, the arse, wherever they chose. One of the girls, who sat close to me on the bus and in the truck, died while she was being raped. Another girl was beaten to a coma for not responding to their instructions on time. They finally left us after they had their full of us. I never knew I will survive. For several days, I could not stand straight, let alone walk. Later, a Benin man who lives in Libya heard our story. He sent some men to search for us and they finally saw us and took us to a place where we were taken care of. When we were strong enough to sit down, we were put in a truck and sent back to Nigeria.”
These are sorry tales of woes, torture, humiliation, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping and death migrants faced and still facing in their quest for a good life in a foreign country—en route Europe—the ‘heavenly’ continent. Human traffickers featured prominently in this Europe malady; they are a serious menace, and they contribute to the misdemeanour and desperation of Nigerian migrants. National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NATIP) has been waging war with these powerful cabals in the country and outside the country. The agency had reported that it rescued about 100 victims in its Sokoto zonal command and secured 10 convictions against offenders. In April 2018 the Edo state command of the agency reported that about 3,500 victims had been recovered so far from traffickers in covert operations, and had received 1,250 victims mostly from Edo and Delta States repatriated from Libya due to the intervention of the Federal Government. But the war is far from over.
Honestly, I will leave the shore of Nigeria someday; some of us will if not most of us—but not due to craze for good fortune in Europe. Nigeria is a golden country (regardless of the dire situations); anyone can make success in any worthy endeavour in any part of the country. True, our social-political system is corrupt and backward in almost all areas, but the future is bright and full of realizable dreams. No one needs to sell one’s dignity outside the shore of the country in the craze for a better life. The call to the watery grave just to make a fortune in life does not worth the risks and shame that attend this call.