Bassem and Hana* were rescued on October 22nd, with their 4-year-old daughter along with 31 other survivors during a night-time operation. They both fled Syria to escape from violence and hunger and give their daughter a future.
“My family and I left Syria because of the war. I cannot go back there. Otherwise, I would be enrolled to fight in the military. We couldn’t guarantee the safety for our child nor her education. So, we decided to leave. We have spent more than a year in Libya. It’s our 5th time trying to escape Libya by the sea. The Libyan coastguards caught us four times and returned us back to Libya.
One time, in May 2022, our boat capsized. We spent five minutes under the boat, without lifejackets. Nine people died in front of us. I can still smell the fuel in the water. We got caught by Libyan coastguards and brought back to Libya. My 4-year-old girl still wakes up at night, frightened, remembering this event. We try to help her to forget.
Before you rescued us, we departed from Sabratha on a fiberglass boat, with no lifejackets. Even food was not given. We had nothing else to do in the beginning, we got kidnapped from Benghazi to Tripoli, in Beni Walid. They wanted money in exchange for our freedom. If we didn’t pay, they would have killed us, and sold a kidney or body parts. We eventually escaped and came to Tripoli.
When you are at sea, the water is all around you and then memories start coming back. You can’t imagine the feeling it is. When we saw your ship, we couldn’t believe it: was this real?
Our dream is to find education for our daughter. We want her to grow up safe and to give her a good life. We no longer want to think about violence or hunger. »
*The names of the survivors were modified to protect their identity.
Photo Credit: Camille Juan Martin / SOS MEDITERRANEE