In my own words

“I spent six months in prison, without food, without medicine”

Testimony by Seif*

Seif, 16, from Somalia, left his family at the age of 12. He explained through an interpreter that he planned to travel with friends, but he was the only one who left. He traveled for three weeks to reach Libya, via Ethiopia and Sudan. He worked on a farm for some time, but he was arrested and spent six months in a prison camp. “People from the government arrested us at a checkpoint. They arrested every black person who passed by. They took my passport and my papers. I spent six months in prison, without food, without medicine, it was like a bad dream.”

However, he insists, “It was only six months.”

Gravely ill, he was quarantined shortly after his arrival on the Aquarius. “I’ve been ill for a year and a half. In the camp, I didn’t work. They beat me so I would give them money.  My uncle helped me to get the money. They didn’t allow us Somalis and Ethiopians to leave, they just extorted money from our families. In Libya, there is no freedom.”

“An old man helped me leave the camp. He was a good man. I worked for him for three months. Then he put me in touch with the smugglers, the people with the boats. So, I’m here.”  


*Names have been changed

Interview: Yann Merlin & Ruby Irene Pratka
Text & Translation: Ruby Irene Pratka