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Routes Toward Italy Narrated by Immigrants

Routes Toward Italy Narrated by Immigrants

From the beginning of 2016, 124.475 people have arrived in Italy crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Most of them come from Subsharian Africa and had to face a log trip through Africa, whose crossing is the last part of the tip. On 13th September 2016 the Organization of Doctors for Human Rights ( Medu) presented  an interactive map, realized taking into account the proofs of thousand migrants arrived in Italy from Africa in the last three years (from 2014-2016).

 More chosen routes. The principal route, followed by immigrants from west Africa, crosses Niger and Libya in order to reach afterwards Italy through the Sicilian Canal ( west- east route). From Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Ivory Coast, migrants go first to Bamako in Mali and then they reach Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and, at last, they reach Niger. An alternative route goes from Bamako a Gao, in Mali, and then reaches Niamey, in Niger.

Many Nigerians reach Niger through Kano. Some migrants, who come from Cameroun, told that they cross Ciad in order to reach Madama in Niger and proceed up to Libya. From Agadez in Sabah they begin the part of the route in the Desert which is called “the route toward the hell”, that all migrants are forced to face in order to reach Libya. The medium duration of the tip from the birth country is of 20 months and the medium duration of the stay in Libya is 14 months.

Oriental routes. The principal route from the Horn of Africa crosses Sudan and Libya in order to reach Italy through the Sicilian Canal (oriental-central route). After having crossed the border between Eritrea and Sudan, which is very dangerous, most part of migrants reach Kassala or the refugee camp of Shagrab in Sudan or the refugee camp of Mai Aini in Ethiopia. Once they reached Khartoum, migrants go through the Desert toward Libya with pick-ups. An alternative and shorter route through the Desert starts from the city of Dongola in the north part of Khartoum.

Generally, the first pick-up leaves migrants to the border of Libya and then goes back toward Khartoum. Migrants have to be dropped by another pick-up, which is managed by Libyan traffickers. The price of the trip from Sudan to Libya varies from 1.000 up to 1500 dollars. Most part of migrants goes afterwards to Agedabia, which is situated in Cyrenaica, not a lot of km far from the Mediterranean coast. From the north part of Libya, migrants try to reach the coast of Bengasi ( in the north-east part) or Zuwara and Sabratha ( west of Tripoli and more near to Sicily) in order to embark themselves later.

The medium duration of the trip from the birth country is of 15 months and the medium time of stay in Libya for migrants that come from Horn of Africa ( for the most part Eritreans) is of 3 months. Ethiopia and Sudan are countries where Eritrean migrants stay for more time. The routes are managed by mediators and traffickers. The sums that migrants pay to follow these routes, generally more expensive from the Horn of Africa, can vary. In Libya, Niger and Sudan migrants risk to be kidnapped and arrested.

The diffusion of tortures. Extreme traumas as the torture and oppressions are a common experience during the travel. More than 90 % of migrants, that were interviewed, have declared to be a victim of oppression, of torture, of inhuman and degrading treatments both in the birth country and during the crossing of the routes, particularly on places of detention and kidnapping in Libya.

The deprivation of food and water, the terrible hygienic conditions and the frequent blow and other types of traumas are the most common forms of bad treatments. There are other forms of torture both physical and psychological one, that are more specific and that migrants have to face. Nine migrants out of ten have declared to have seen someone die, someone killed or tortured.

The invisible wounds. In the reception centres in Sicily ( Mineo, Ragusa), 82 per cent of asylum seekers followed by Medu ( 162 patients) still presented sings on their body that were compatible with the violence that was told. Among the most frequent psychic disturbs that were studied by Medu, there are post traumatic stress disturbs (ptsd) and other disturbs linked with traumatic situations, but also disturbs due to sleep and to anxiety. When Shiva, a 10 years- old girl who come from Liberia and who survived after a shipwreck to come to Europe, draws the sea, she paints it with black, because according to her the Mediterranean Sea represents suffering. Sometimes, these disturbs are less considered because they are ignored or diagnosed in late. This problem not only creates a worsening of the medical case of the patient but also great difficulties for the integration of the migrant in the asylum countries.

The escape from the persecutions and hard labour. Stories have been collected by the operators and volunteers of the organization in the different reception centres, particularly in Sicily, but also in Rome in the informal places of reception and in the centre of “Psychè” for the rehabilitation of victims of tortures or in Ventimiglia and in Egypt. Among the migrants that come from the Horn of Africa, and in particular from Eritrea, the principal cause of escapes is the compulsory military service for an indefinite period of time, a system that is comparable to hard works. The factors that force people to migrate from West Subsaharian African Countries are more heterogeneous: among people that were interviewed, the first cause is the political persecution, while the economical causes are at the base of the trip for 10 per cent of the migrants.

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