Voices on the Move

Newly arrived migrant boy sleep rough in Yemen.Photo:Espen Rasmussen/Panos
May 22, 2012 Written by: INTERSOS Yemen

“They raped the girls on the boat in front of us…”  
On 23 March 2012 Molla returned back to Ethiopia, putting an end to a trip of sufferance that started in August of the previous year. He was very excited at the thought of returning home. A few hours before leaving the INTERSOS centre, Molla said that he would never try again to leave his country. He added that he will, if given the opportunity, speak to the media or to anybody in his country who would listen  to create awareness  with  Ethiopian children about the great risks they expose themselves to  during what they consider their “Journey of Hope”.

About me and my dream...
“My name is Molla. I am 15 years old and come from Ethiopia. My parents died more than five years ago when I was a child. I have two younger sisters and we have no family to take care of us but my aunt. When I started thinking about going to Saudi Arabia, there was no one to advise me. My dream of having a car and some money pushed me to start my trip of migration”.

The journey of death...
“I started my journey with some friends through the Afar desert, where we were attacked by some robbers who beat us badly and took the money we had. After a week of walking through the desert, during which some people died of starvation, we reached Tajoor Mountain where we stopped to rest. When I looked around me, I saw people dying, some were sleeping and others crying, asking for water and food. I was walking among people laying on the ground, looking at them and talking...but they were just staring at me and talking...then I realized that they were dead!! At that point I knew that I was on the journey of death...”

“Down the mountain, the smugglers were always there...waiting with their cars to take us to the coast of Djibouti. The cars were made for seven or ten people but they loaded us like sacks of potatoes...more than forty in each car.  I kept thinking that ‘I am lucky, I am still alive’ so I had to go on.  I believed that I was going to Saudi Arabia straight from Djibouti. Even as I was going ahead, I kept thinking of all the dead people I had seen, I was scared. This made the sea crossing for me more difficult and frightening...but I still went on”.

Crossing the Red Sea...and after
“In a small boat, we were about seventy, some were young girls. There were four smugglers, Yemeni I think. They raped the girls on the boat in front of us...we were not able to move or speak.  Those girls were already sold to Yemeni traffickers”.

“The trip lasted about 7 hours.  As soon as we arrived in Mocha the traffickers took the girls away and started to beat us badly. They gave us one meal only; the food was not enough for all of us.  Sadly there were some Ethiopians, our people, with the Yemenis torturing us and asking us to transfer money; they were saying Hawel, Hawel (transfer in Arabic). Before starting my trip I had left some money with my relatives, in case I can ask them to transfer some money if I need, this was done probably by many of my fellows. The smugglers and their Ethiopians assistants knew this and they were beating us and asking us to transfer money to them”.

“After 5 days I decided to escape or to end my life, so I asked the guard to go to the toilet which is outdoor, I run and run, after short time I heard some shooting behind me. I walked and walked until I have no breath. I arrived to a place where I saw a woman taking water from a well, when she saw me she screamed, I must have looked like a ghost. Two men came out of the house because of the screaming of the woman. I was on the ground, when they saw me, one of them carried me and took me to their house, I was pointing for water, they gave me water and some food, I do not remember how much time did I sleep but I slept and when I woke up later they gave me more food”.

“I thought about all bad people I met during my journey and about this family that helped me, I thought that there is still hope in people. Those people brought me back my soul. They showed me the road to Huydadah, farewell to that good family and I continued my road”.

“In Huydadah I met an Ethiopian who told me that he could take me to Saudi Arabia but I have to pay 40000 YER ($185) and he took me to a place where we met some Yemenis and they started to beat me and broke my arm.I asked them why? I told them that I’d paid already to the Ethiopian man. They said yes we know but you need to pay 70,000 YER ($328). I paid because I can’t bear the beating anymore and I wanted to go ahead to reach Saudi Arabia with great hopes of earning money…”

Deportation and more…
“Those men left me in an area which I don’t know, but I walked more long until I reached Sabiyah where I found a job in a farm for 400 Saudi Riyal ($106). I worked 25 days then the owner of the farm gave me to the police and I spent 5 days in jail… my cell was a bathroom, then they moved all prisoners to another jail where I stayed 34 days. They beaten us and treated us worse than animals. Even when we asked for food they were not answering. One day one of the prisoners in my cell died; the guards took him and just threw him out of the prison like a bag of rubbish!!!”

“I was released on Yemeni border and I went to Haradh in Yemen where I stayed 3 days, but I decided to go back to Saudi Arabia. I walked for 3 days and arrived, with other 2 people to a place called Khamis Mshait but we were arrested again by police, I spent in jail 13 days where I was beaten and given no food… I was released on the Yemeni border and I went again to Haradh”.

“I thought that my nightmare will not come to an end; I was suffering from sickness, beatings by smugglers and police. I found myself unconscious, hopeless, breathless and almost dying of starvation… I realised that I was in a camp in Haradh, I was pointing to eat. They took me to a hospital where I was treated for 7 days until I recovered, I was brought to the camp again where I spent almost one month. After that I was brought to a centre (INTERSOS) where I felt that I was born again, I felt like I had my parents that I lost. Now I can sleep deeply, I feel save, I am grateful for these people working for us, they provide us with food and organize for us some games and play, I missed these things since long time. I found my childhood again here. This place is the good part and the great hope of my trip…”

INTERSOS, Yemen interviewed Molla in Haradh and sent RMMS this story.

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