Nia* was rescued during the night, on the 27th of December 2022. She spent 24 hours on an overcrowded rubber boat with 112 other people. The SOS MEDITERRANEE team searched for hours in the dark before spotting a blinking light, four nautical miles away. After launching the Ocean Viking’s three fast rescue boats, the rescue team could hear the cry of babies and the anxiety of the people, sitting on a piece of rubber in the middle of the night. Nia* shared her story with the crew shortly after being rescued, while holding another survivor’s hand.
TW: depiction of violence
“I stayed in Libya three long years. Over there, they beat the women, day and night. I saw women die in front of my eyes. They rape you and treat you like animals. They even beat children and babies. You become sick in your head from staying in Libya. Look at this man [pointing the survivor she is holding] he is not with us anymore. Even if we don’t speak the same language, in the boat I was holding him tightly, because he could have fallen in the water at any time. He doesn’t speak anymore. He is no longer eating alone. I shared the bit of water I had with him during the crossing. Libya does that to people. Some become ghosts. And me, I have pain in my belly because I had a miscarriage just before embarking on the boat. This is not normal. It makes me sick thinking about it. That’s why I am helping this man, and everyone is kind with him, because we know how Libya is and how it can destroy you.”
*The name was changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
Credits: Michael Bunel / SOS MEDITERRANEE