17 years old, Nakfa, Eritrea

“I had no freedom. In my country you have to be a soldier, and I don’t want to. In all of Eritrea there is a war and the president wants everyone to go to the Army.” Ahmed left his country at the age of 15 and has spent two traveling. For fleeing his country, his parents had to spend a month in prison.

“If it were a year of military service, I would, but in Eritrea it can be two years, six years …” He did not stay in Ethiopia because both countries are at war. He then crossed into Sudan, where he worked at a restaurant in Khartoum for a few months, but was undocumented and had a lot of trouble with the police. Upon arrival in Libya, he was kidnapped by a militia. “They called my mother while they beat me to continue sending them money,” Ahmed has many scars on his arms and back from those months. He spent almost a year in the custody of the militia, which in the end paid $ 6,000 to be trafficked to Europe. “The police are the al haramia, they are all family.” He has tried to cross four times, and since he had paid such a high amount, each time he was arrested he called “his boss” and released him to try the next time.

“If I had known what Libya was going to be, I would have stayed in Sudan and I would have been a soldier. In Libya they do not respect anyone, neither women nor anyone, only if you are white.”


Testimony collected and written by Marta Maroto (El País)