Abu S.* is 25 years young. “I am from South Sudan. Do you know Darfur?” he asks me when we meet on the aft deck of the Aquarius, a few hours after he was rescued by our team. “Yes I know the situation” I say.
“The militias come into our villages and they kill us. My father was killed by them. My mother survived.” Abu S. has a long and painful journey behind him. “I left Darfur several months ago. I think six or seven months ago. The last 5 months I spent in Libya. It was horror. You can’t believe how bad it is there.”
Abu S. is an academic. “I studied electrical engineering. But I never got a job. I have no chance as somebody from Darfur to get a job.” When he arrived in Libya, he was arrested on the streets and put in prison. “I was arrested without having done anything. This happens every day. And if you don’t get arrested they maybe kill you. Also without any reason.”
The young man has spent 3 months in prison. “They were beating me. You cannot imagine. Then they contacted my family and told them to pay for me otherwise they would kill me.” His family paid. Abu S. got released and another group in Libya forced him to enter one of the boats. “I did not have to pay but they contacted my family again. They paid for me. Again. I hope I will be able to pay them back one day, to help them.”
Abu S. was rescued in one of the longest rescue operation SOS MEDITERRANEE ever had. 3 wooden boats were rescued simultaneously on 28.12.2016 and all children, women and men arrived safely aboard the Aquarius and a Navy vessel.
(*name has been changed)
Text: René Schulthoff