Migrants tell of their 'Libyan hell' as they arrive in Europe

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By Javi Julio
Some of the people onboard the Aita Mari look at the island of Sicily
Some of the people onboard the Aita Mari look at the island of Sicily   -   Copyright  Credit: Javi Julio   -  

"We are happy to leave the Libyan hell behind," migrants told Euronews as their rescue ship, Aita Mari. arrived into southern Sicily.

They were among 79 people rescued in the Mediterranean last week.

"In my country, the only life is that of being a soldier," said Abdul. "There is no education and no freedom."

He left Eritrea at the age of 15 to avoid military service and war.

Credit: Javi Julio
AbdulCredit: Javi Julio

He fled to Ethiopia, then to Sudan, and finally to Libya, where he was captured by one of the militias fighting to control the country.

"Libya is not a good place," Abdul said while showing the scars on his arms.

Credit: Javi Julio
IsmailCredit: Javi Julio

"We had to eat toothpaste [to survive]," Ismail, a young man from Somalia, told Euronews. He has tried to cross the Mediterranean three times, but he was repeatedly intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken into detention centres.

"Prisons are controlled by militias," he said. "They are made up of brothers, cousins... and they ask for ransom."

The testimony of the 79 people rescued by the Aita Mari match with those of human rights organisations working in Libya: detention centres are places for torture and extortion.

"You get arrested just because you are black," Ismail explained.

Credit: Javi Julio
HamirCredit: Javi Julio

Hamir will never forget the journey through the desert on a van: dozens of bodies fell during the drive.

"At sea, at least you can swim. If you fall during this trip, you're dead. You couldn't see anything but the desert", he said.

When they arrived in Tripoli, Hamir and his brother were arrested and imprisoned.

"One day, I managed to escape during a football match, but I left my brother inside," he said.