Ahmed's story

Necessary Risk

Ahmed’s Story: Necessary Risk

“Maybe those who were born here [in the UK] do not understand this, but we know what we will face when we decide to take the journey,” says Ahmed, recounting his reasons for embarking on one of the most dangerous routes in search of protection and a better life. “We know that we will die in the desert and at sea. But we don’t have any other options.”

Ahmed left Eritrea in 2014, crossing the border into Sudan where he spent no more than ten days before embarking on the infamously dangerous journey through Libya. No sooner had his journey begun, did he find himself face to face with death.

The vehicles transporting Ahmed and others, made an unexpected stop, and they were told to get off.  They were subsequently abandoned in the desert for nine days with limited supplies of  food and water. During this period, Ahmed watched helplessly as six people died of hunger and thirst.

“The worst memory I have is when I was unable to give water to those who were dying of thirst,” he recalls.

Eventually, the traffickers came back for them in vehicles carrying additional people. Huddled and crammed over each other like goods, they continued the dusty drive across the rugged desert.

Listen to Ahmed’s account of his journey from Eritrea to Libya:

After being rescued by the Italian coast guard from a leaking and overcrowded boat, Ahmed felt immense relief believing he was finally safe from harm. Little did he know, another difficult journey awaited him—one that would challenge him both physically and mentally.

Ahmed had been staying in Italy for approximately 10 days when he made up his mind to go to the UK.

“In Italy people sleep on the streets and nobody cares for them,” says Ahmed. “When you see the immigrants in Italy who are African, they’re living in bad conditions,” he adds, shaking his head.

From Italy, he travelled to France where he found himself in the derelict jungle of Calais. There, every night turned into a game of cat and mouse with refugees and migrants hiding from authorities and truck drivers as they attempted to hitch a ride across the English Channel.

After numerous attempts, Ahmed managed to get into the UK hidden in a lorry. At the time of this interview he had been living in the UK for a little over a year. He was facing various challenges, such as language problems, but was still optimistic about the future.

Listen to his story:

Date of interview: 1 December 2016  |  Last modified: 1 December 2016  |
Interview by: Messai Ali  |  Written by: Christa Awuor Odinga  |  Video by: Max-Michel Kolijn