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Filmon’s ordeal

Abducted and tortured

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Filmon’s story

“Before I got abducted, I had no intention of going to Europe or America,” Filmon says. “Since my training was mainly within electronics repair and IT, my hope was to work in Uganda or Angola.”

Twenty-seven year old Filmon was just beginning to adjust to life in the Shagarab refugee camp, in Eastern Sudan, after leaving his home in Eritrea. His hope was that once he obtained his refugee identity card, he could perhaps move to Uganda or Angola and start a new life.

One day, while collecting firewood on the outskirts of camp for cooking, Filmon and two other refugees were kidnapped. Their kidnappers, believed to be from the feared Rashaida tribe notoriously known for their systematic abduction of Eritreans in Sudan, drove them to Egypt where they were handed over to a group of traffickers who then took them to the Sinai Desert.

Listen to Filmon’s account of the kidnapping and his ordeal in the hands of traffickers.

After Filmon’s ransom was paid he was handed over to another group of traffickers who, despite his deteriorating physical condition, would facilitate his crossing into Israel. In the hands of this group he witnessed a whiff of kindness amid his state of desperation.

“I really couldn’t believe it when they asked me what kind of fruit I would like to eat,” he says. “Since I couldn’t move my hands during that single day I was with them, they fed me themselves.”

“While some of the Bedouins subjected me to such irreversible pain, other Bedouin people saved my life,” he adds.

Listen to Filmon recount his experience in the hands of smugglers, and his final crossing into Israel.

Filmon ended up staying in Israel at a refugee shelter for a year and a half. During his time in the country he attracted the attention of journalists who went on to share his story. Various private individuals came forward and donated money to enable Filmon to travel to the United States or Germany for much needed surgery. Through the assistance of an influential friend in Israel, Filmon and a fellow refugee were able to acquire travel documents for Belgium. There he sought asylum and eventually had further surgery in Germany, where he is currently located.

Here Filmon talks of his life and expectations in Europe.

Date of interview: 8 September 2015  |  Last modified: 28 May 2016  |
Interview by: Khaled Abdu Mohammedsaid  |  Written by: Christa Awuor Odinga  |  Video by: Max-Michel Kolijn