The recent spate of boat disasters involving Africans who tried to emigrate from their respective countries to Europe is quite disheartening.
In addition, the recent shipwreck in the Mediterranean, which led to the death of hundreds of migrants who were traveling from Libya to Italy, has led many to ask why people are willing to emigrate from their countries at all costs, even if means risking their lives.
According to CNN, many of the migrants that passed away as a result of the shipwreck, were from countries like Algeria, Egypt, Somalia, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Zambia, Ghana, and Bangladesh.
Why do some of these migrants embark on the perilous journey despite the risks?
Two Eritrean men told CNN why they were willing to risk everything to leave their country. Here are excerpts from the report:
Grymay Tesfamical, 18, a Christian student from Eritrea
The 18-year-old former student said he was traveling with a group of fellow Eritreans on two buses when they were intercepted by 10 armed ISIS fighters, just south of Tripoli.
“Two buses were surrounded and they were looking for Christians and Muslims. They put Muslims here and Christians over there. That was Da’esh in Libya,” Tesfamical said.
He said the ISIS fighters beheaded 20 people at the side of the road; he ran away, feeling the sting of a bullet as it grazed his back.
“In Libya it was very very dangerous. If you have this,” he said, clasping the crucifix around his neck, “it means this,” gesturing to suggest a knife slicing his throat.
Tesfamical said he fled Eritrea one year ago to avoid compulsory conscription. He took a route via Ethiopia, through Sudan before arriving in Libya by bus.
He said in Libya, Christian migrants were routinely beaten and denied food and water. From there, he too fled on a boat bound for Italy, in search of a safer, better life.
Esayas Nisque, 18, student from Senafe, Eritrea
For Esayas Nisque, home is a small town in Eritrea, a few hours walk from the Ethiopian border. Most of the local men leave to find work in other countries. Few want to stay in Eritrea, he said: “As soon as you finish school and are not learning then they want to make you a soldier.”
Nisque’s journey to Europe took him by way of a refugee camp in Ethiopia where he lived for six years, before heading to Libya and making the treacherous journey to Italy by sea…
The boat, carrying around 500 people, left Libya early one evening three weeks ago; it didn’t take long for the unstable craft to start taking on water.
“Journey not good,” Nisque said. “The boat opened up and we were a short [distance] from Italy and a helicopter came to help us.”