Surviving torture

Mohamed's harrowing experiences


Mohamed’s story

“We all know the problems in Somalia,” says Mohamed. “There are two problems: fighting problems and clan problems. I left because of these two problems…”

Mohamed was only 16 when he fled Somalia for Europe in search of a safe haven. Through contact with smugglers, he was taken into Ethiopia and then Sudan, where he was kept under vigilant watch. Mohamed, together with others partaking in the journey, was held in different off-road locations under tight security. Under captivity, they were treated like animals. They were not allowed to talk or make the slightest noise.

“If your owners hear you make noise they will come and beat you,” he says. “So it is a very difficult life.”

“You are led around by people like animals,” he says. “When you come to Sudan, you are watched and taken to different places. Those who start to shout are thrown out of the car or killed. That is life on the journey.”

Mohamed’s journey took a turn for the worst while traveling through the infamous Sahara desert in Sudan and Libya. During his 20 days in captivity he witnessed all sorts of atrocities and didn’t think he would make it out alive.

“Some guys who were with us were stoned to death,” he recalls. “They had only asked for water. Nothing else. They didn’t even have food. They were hungry for several days and they asked for water, and then they were stoned to death.”

Mohamed spent a year Libya. During that time he was arrested and detained several times, and thrown in a jail where he was tortured and sometimes released to work as a slave.

“Most people who come from Somalia have no family to send them money,” Mohamed says. “They are kept in jails, they are beaten. Some are used as slaves.”

“When you cross the desert and come to Libya, you lead a difficult life,” he recalls. “You only see people dying. Death. Nothing but death.”

Listen to Mohamed recount his journey to safety.

At the time of this interview, Mohamed was living in Vienna, Austria, where he had been granted refugee status. Over the course of his journey he lost touch with his family, who he believes had to move to another region of Somalia for security reasons.

Date of interview: 9 July 2015  |  Last modified: 15 April 2016  |
Interview by: Fuad Muhamed Sharif  |  Written by: Christa Awuor Odinga  |  Video by: Max-Michel Kolijn