HAL FAR, MALTA - JUNE 21: Dawit (right), a 35 years immigrant old from Ethiopia, and Michael (center), a 25 years old immigrant from Eritrea, are here by the Swiss Red Cross tents inside the Hangar Open Center in Hal Far (which translates as "Rat's Town") on June 21, 2011.
Dawit was a language teacher in Tripoli and lived well, with no problems until the crisis started. He arrived in Malta on March 29th on a boat with 80 people after crossing the sea for 34 hours. "Once the UN resolution against Libya was signed there were State TV announcements (also in English) that announced that migrants were free to leave the country. It wasn't possible before that date because of the agreement between Italy and Libya". No police or army forced them to leave, but there was some kind of general pressure to get sub-saharan migrants out of the country and to have them leave by boat. In Dawit's case, his landlord told him he had one day to leave his apartment. "Buses in Tripoli were collecting people and deporting them", Dawit says. They couldn’t go towards Tunisia or Egypt, only towards to the coast. Other sub-Saharans were able to flee to Tunisia, but there aren't any Ethiopian embassies in Libya, so Ethiopians in Libya don't have any documents that allowed them to stay in the country or officially cross borders. Once they arrived at the port they didn't pay any fixed fee but all they had was confiscated, including food and water. A boat was given to them and they left. "People had bought food and water for their journey, but everything was confisfacted. I was lucky, because it took me only 34 hours to arrive in Malta, but it took these guys (indicating Michael, 25, and Mubarak, 23, both from Ethiopia, standing next to him - not in this picture) 10 days to arrive", Dawit says.Dawit continues: "Life was good in Libya. We were all supporting our families. If wanted we could have left before, when everybody was leaving Libya (referring to 2008). But the price to reach Europe was
- ©2011 Gianni Cipriano
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