“I prefer dying in Libya than dying here”

June 30, 2011


Abdul (23) left Ivory Coast in 2008. Before the war broke out, he spent months in Libyan prison.


“I prefer dying in Libya than dying here”

“I have seen too many dead people in my country. When I was 15, I was left to live in the streets. I cannot talk about my life in Ivory Coast. Even my friends don’t know about my story.

I left Côte d’Ivoire in 2008. I travelled through many countries to escape my own.

When I arrived in Libya, the military arrested me and brought me to prison, in the middle of the desert. There were hundreds of us there. Every day, people were dying.

I spent 3 months and 30 days in prison. I was beaten every day. For three weeks, I could not stand up. I still suffer from my injuries. I had to bury seven people, including three pregnant girls. If you did not do it, you were thrown alive in the hole along with the corpses.

At times, we were given only five litres of salty water for hundreds of prisoners. We had to drink it drop by drop. We did not have enough to eat. But we were not allowed to complain. We had to hide our diseases, or we risked further beating. There was not even enough space for us to sleep; we were crammed inside a room too small. There was no toilet.

It is a miracle I am still alive

It is a miracle I am still alive. I never thought I would see light again. I was looking at people dying, the brutality, the violence. I was waiting for my turn.

One night, there was a desert storm. The prison’s ceiling was shaking. We managed to break out of prison. Policemen chased us with land cruisers and dogs. But I managed to escape and spent three days walking in the Sahara.

I will never forget one of the prisoners, a Gambian man. His foot had been broken and he could not escape. He was crying for help. But we were between life and death. Everyone had to try to save their lives.

When I arrived in the city of Sabah, I met a fellow Ivoirian. He helped me. I could not do anything for months. I was sick, I was having nightmares. It was very difficult.

Life in Libya was hard. We were robbed repeatedly. They broke our door, they took our papers. We had no rights. It is a lawless country.

I have been in Shousha camp for four months now. During the May incidents in the camp, I saw more than 15 people injured while some people died. I was injured in the foot by a tear gas shell. I fear for my security here too.

We lead a life of tramps here. Some of us have gone back to Ivory Coast. Some have returned to Libya. I cannot go home. If I could, I would not stay in this camp. I prefer dying in Libya than dying here. I am ready to go back, even if I die.”


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