This is the testimony of E., Cameroonian, 26 years, rescued on the 2nd February by the Aquarius of SOS MEDITERRANEE
“Two hours after leaving the Libyan coast, two armed, masked men on another boat approached our dinghy. They spoke in Arabic for around 15 minutes with the two smugglers on board our dinghy and then went away. No shots were fired. I don’t think they were the police or the coast guard. They were pirates, people after money. A bit later, around midnight, once they had left, the two armed smugglers who were aboard our dinghy left on another boat.
I think they were afraid that we would be intercepted, that the armed men would take us back to the coast and throw us in prison again. It happened often; one of the people I was travelling with had been caught like this twice. Armed men take you to a prison near the coast. They give you a telephone and ask you to call your family and ask for money to be transferred in exchange for your freedom. My friend was caught twice and had to pay twice. This time it was ok, he got away.”