photo credit: iom/monica chiriac
“After I finished secondary school, I did not have enough money to continue my studies so I had to go out in the ‘real world’ and learn a craft so I could make some money. The state Nigeria is in right now is not good for anyone. Even in Libya, when I told people I was from Nigeria, they looked at me as if I was crazy. The economy is not balanced in my country. Some people have a lot while others have nothing. I didn’t have anything when I left back in 2014 – just one mother to look after.
I spent five days trying to reach Libya. The driver is supposed to carry ten passengers, but smugglers pile up 40 people in the back of a car instead. Some people fell off the car; others broke their arms or legs, others died, but the driver never stopped for them. You wouldn’t believe how many dead bodies there are right now in the desert.
Once I got to Libya, I started working in a bakery. I worked hard for a couple of years and had even managed to save some money, but I faced a lot of bad experiences. There are some people in Libya they call ‘informants’. They look at you, they try to guess how long you have been there for and if you are a hard worker, and they will kidnap you if they believe you have money. If you want to work in Libya, your work place can’t be too far from your house otherwise you risk getting kidnapped. At 8 PM everything shuts down.
They kidnapped me and asked for 10,000 dinars to release me. At home, if you have that kind of money, you are a rich man. My friends negotiated so they agreed on 5,000 dinars instead. I couldn’t call my mother to tell her; she would have died knowing I was in prison. My friend used the 3,000 I had saved and took another 2,000 so I managed to get out. Last year they kidnapped me again and I had to pay again. What is the point of working if at the end of the day they kidnap you and steal all your money? I couldn’t go on like this anymore.
This route must be closed. As a man, you can somewhat handle the risks this route entails, but as a woman, it’s terrible. They sell women as prostitutes every day. I saw Nigerian girls as young as 15 forced to do it - it’s a nightmare. Hopefully, things will soon change in Nigeria and we can make a future for ourselves there.”