Continue to arrive by the thousands, in their "flight for life", from various sub-Saharan countries and the Horn of Africa. In particular from Eritrea. They know, these refugees, men and women mostly very young, often minors, that Libya is now in chaos, totally out of control. No coincidence that they abandoned in a hurry even the last Europeans, including all personnel of the Italian Embassy, the only remained open when the various Western governments have decided to dismantle their diplomatic missions. And they know just as well that all the way to deal with, first through the Sahara Sudan and then over the Libyan border, is a no man's land, where desperate as they are easy prey for human traffickers, unscrupulous bandits, tribal clans, militiamen ready to shoot you for nothing, corrupt police and military, both pro-government and anti government. But they have no choice: what they leave behind scares them more than all this. To have a chance of life and freedom, that of the fate groped still is the only choice. Although more and more to fall along what should be a path of hope.
The agency Habeshia is one of the few landmarks remaining in these "poorest of the poor," as defined them Pope Francis. The news that keep coming in via mobile Don Mussie Zerai and his staff are terrible. The recount voice breaking with grief and fear the refugees themselves or any of their family. They talk about kidnappings, extortion, beatings, torture, violence continued. Women and men reduced to a state of "res nullius": slaves, human objects available to all, kept alive only because often they can still be traded and sold. Goods on which to make money.
Sudan, in particular, has become what a few years ago was the Sinai: the main base of the human traffickers who kidnap, torture, blackmail, threaten those who can not pay to put it on the market of organs for transplants illegal. Everything leads one to believe, indeed, that here, in Sudan, between the border with Eritrea and the area of Shagarab, have been transferred operating centers of Rashaida, the large Bedouin tribe that has made a huge business traffic refugee slaves. Exactly the same technique used at the turn of the border with Israel, before it was closed by Tel Aviv with an insurmountable barrier of concrete, barbed wire and electronic sensors. There have already been several reports in the past months. In particular for the kidnapping, in at least two occasions, of thirty young Eritreans who were trying to reach Khartoum. Now there is news that the same fate befell many other refugees, perhaps a few dozen: they denounced the relatives of some prisoners, contacted on the phone to ask for ransom, $ 10,000 apiece.
"The seizure took place right on the road to Shagarab - told one of the guys caught, launching a dramatic plea for help - We were traveling on a big pickup truck. A group of armed men stopped us: they beat the driver and we were forced to get off the load floor where we were herded. Could not resist: they had their guns drawn. It seemed that we were waiting for ... ". A real ambush probably were following their moves since they had crossed the Eritrean border. They were immediately taken away under escort, then enclosing them in a makeshift prison, somewhere in the Sahel, and the border between Shagarab. Never fails in these cases, some beating at random, just to "lead by example" and stave off any will to resist. A few days later I started the phone calls to family-blackmail, in Eritrea but also in Europe. Often while the victims were tortured, so that their screams of pain make the home more "effective" demand for money, erasing any doubt about the intentions of the kidnappers: for those who do not pay is the end.
For Ajdabiya, a detention center for refugees on the coast, 150 km south of Benghazi, something similar happens. The range depends formally by the Ministry of Interior. In Libya, however, with two governments and two parliaments that are at war, in Tripoli and Tobruk, there is no longer any form of authority and control of the country. The complex of Ajdabiya is in the hands of traffickers Libyan and Sudanese who have divided the deal: $ 1,600 to each prisoner for the way to the ground from Khartoum, via Sahara, and at least as many for the crossing of the Mediterranean on a barge to lose. Often more. Total: from a minimum of 3,200 dollars and up. Those who can not pay the full amount has no hope of escape. It was beaten almost every day: there are those who can not hardly move after the volley of blows.
No better in Misrata. Here indeed the inmates are even more, about 350, all Eritreans. Until a few days ago there were also Somalis, but were brought to Tripoli, you do not know exactly where, waiting to be shipped. The field is one of the most infamous. E 'for years at the mercy of militiamen formally sided with the government in Tripoli but in reality, as most of the armed groups in Libya, almost always act independently. Last summer, during the battle for control of the international airport in Tripoli, repeatedly have armed guards forcibly removed many prisoners, to use them as slaves-bearers of weapons and ammunition from the line of fire. Several, as several witnesses have told, they would die or be injured. Certainly, many have never returned to the field. Living conditions are terrible: poor food, little water, abuse continues. Every slightest sign of resistance is punished with a stick. There is no shortage cruel games: "Sometimes the jailers - said a young man to Habeshia - choose one or more prisoners and have fun rip off her clothes with strokes of knife. If one even tries to retreat, part a vicious beating. " Every day is a nightmare. The only way to get out is to pay $ 1,200: in so much is the ransom to be transferred to Gasr Garabulli or another of the beaches around the capital from where boats leave towards Italy.
"In this Libya now completely prey to violence - says Mussie Zerai - refugees have become cannon fodder. Westerners fled all and there is no one who can help. It is hundreds of thousands of people. Some estimates say 400,000, some even 600 thousand. Maybe you could think of a plan of evacuation by land to Tunisia or Egypt, as in the days of the revolt against Gaddafi. Instead they were left there, trapped. " The only chance to leave, thus, remains to submit to the blackmail of the traffickers who, once received by migrants the toll for crossing the Strait of Sicily, only think about getting rid of them as soon as possible, perhaps forcing them to embark even with the sea force 8 and RIB deflated, as has happened during the past shipwrecks, that killed nearly 350 people.
"We have news from Tripoli - takes up about it don Zerai - that on the coast there are about 2,500 Eritreans and Ethiopians and as many Somalis and Sudanese crowded into some sheds. They have already paid the 'ticket' for any place on a boat. Will definitely embarked in the coming days. Regardless of the conditions of sea and weather. Everything will likely depend on the possible need to make space in the sheds where those poor people are locked up, others like them desperate. So the risk of dying in the Mediterranean increases. Indeed, if the current operation will remain only a naval patrol surveillance program or even rejection, without precise plans of rescue, we can expect a real massacre. I wonder how Italy and Europe can accept this. And the same question applies to the indifference shown by the Board of Brussels and from all the governments of the Member States of the European Union about what is happening in Sudan. It 'was recently signed the so-called Process of Khartoum, presented as a decisive agreement for a new management of migration, respecting the rights and safety of refugees and asylum seekers. The initiative was strongly supported especially from Italy. Then we ask the Italian government to immediately mobilize to demand the release from Khartoum migrants kidnapped and blackmailed by marauders and protection of all refugees entering the territory of Sudan. It 's absurd that the bands of traffickers to operate undisturbed, almost under the eyes of the police, the military and of the highest authorities, since the seizures occur along one of the beaten track in the country, the one that leads from the southern border to the capital. But maybe that's the point here: perhaps that agreement that does not stand, for a variety of reasons. Beginning unreliability already demonstrated by much of the signatories. In particular, right from the Sudan. "