Actually, January has just begun – and yet there is already a terrifying record in the Mediterranean Sea: more than 200 refugees and migrants have drowned there since January 1 on their way to Europe, more deathly than ever in the first week of January .
A large part of the fugitives comes from Eritrea, which is a kind of North Korea in the Horn of Africa. One of the world’s most closed countries, dictatorially governed, according to Amnesty International – about 10,000 political prisoners imprisoned under terrible conditions. And with a military service, which is obligatory for both men and women, from 18 to forty years. It is no wonder that so many Eritreans seek their salvation in flight, says Cécile Allegra, author of a documentary entitled ”Journey to Barbarei”.
”The course is now very well known. These are young people who flee before the military service; Because in Eritrea all those who have finished the school are immediately forced to military drill, with a view to an always possible war against Ethiopia. A terrible lot, because once you’re in the army, you do not know when you get out. To escape this, these young people flee to the frontier – and they have to pay someone to get them there. As soon as they have crossed the frontier, they have to overcome difficult mountain ranges and are threatened by armed gangs. But if they do it in a miraculous way in a refugee camp in Sudan, they will often be the victims of kidnappers who work for human traffickers. ”
Until recently, many Eritreans and migrants were tortured on the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai; Bandits tried to extort ransom from the relatives in the African countries of origin. Allegra had first discovered a dozen of torturecamps during searches at Sinai in 2012.
”But now there are no torture houses on Sinai. A large-scale operation of the Egyptian army, which was supposed to prevent the infiltration of Islamic terrorists from the Gaza Strip, was ensured. Since then, there has been no such trafficking to Sinai, but now it is near Alexandria, Libya and Sudan. ”
In working on her documentary, Allegra has come across a cynical industry of trafficking in human beings. Many of the Eritreans who flee through North Africa and want to go to Europe fall into unscrupulous exploits.
”All kidnappers are first placed in a temporary storage facility. You can see those on Google Earth: huge storage halls at the edge of a city. Inside, the abducted are chained and waiting for their deportation. This is a kind of market: The traffickers go around there and say: I take ten, I take thirty … From this interim truck truck columns start in different directions; And whenever they encounter a road block, a border or policemen, they are smeared. And this evil destiny meets thousands of people. If we see them later, as they try to come across the Mediterranean in a boat, we may say: The poor people! But we do not even know what they have already done. And why they do not seem to be such a big step to get into a boat. ”
Allegra is concerned about the dangers of migrants and refugees in North Africa. ”What I have seen is not a temporary barbarism. This is an organized system that is linked to international terrorism and has connections with the Mafia. This is a very disturbing phenomenon. We Europeans are very much concerned about the issue of security; We wonder whether these migrants are not criminals and terrorists, and that is certainly the case. But we do not save ourselves by confining our borders; Instead, we make ourselves accomplices of a very serious crime. ”