Ada*, 20 years old, from Nigeria, was rescued by the Ocean Viking from an overcrowded rubber boat in distress on the 7th of January. She is among the first 37 survivors rescued by SOS MEDITERRANEE in 2023. Her smile onboard is hiding a world of pain, after 5 years spent in Libya. Here is her story:
“I left Nigeria when I was 15 years old because of the insecurity. I have a daughter back in my country, but I couldn’t have the resources to take care of her. Both my parents died. I got rapidly trapped in Libya. They kidnap me, “kalabush” they say. I found several jobs, mostly cleaning people’s house, but most of the time I was not paid. I didn’t see any future in Libya, people are not treated well there. I took the sea four times, but I was returned three times until today, when you rescued us: “God bless you”.
The three times I was trapped at sea, I was sent directly to jail**. The first time, [I was detained] one month, the second time three months, the last time one week. I was crying everyday there. They wanted a ransom from me, but I had nobody home to call. They would give us only a piece of bread per day and salty water to drink. I managed to escape twice, and they let me go once, after they got what they wanted from me. I knew this boat was dangerous to go onto, but what other choice did I have left? I want to be free; I want to have a life for myself, I want to build a future for my daughter, I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
*The name was changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
** Survivors often refer to “jails” or “prisons” when talking about arbitrary detentions in informal detention centers.
Credits: Michael Bunel / SOS MEDITERRANEE