“I saw myself die. “People have gone crazy. “It’s hell on earth. “They killed my brother” … To mention their passage in Libya, the migrants who were rescued by the German NGO Jugend Rettet aboard the humanitarian ship Iuventa, on August 1, 2016, in the Mediterranean, all borrow from the lexicon of the ‘horror.
For these men, mostly from West Africa, Libya is the first access route to Europe. The country is plagued by violence and political confusion since the uprising that began in February 2011, which led to the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. To get there, they took two main roads. One goes through northern Mali, then through Algeria. The other, which crosses Niger, is the busiest, to the point that Agadez has become a true “migratory hub”. From this city of the Sahel, the “coxeurs” – touts responsible for organizing the trip – form convoys of pickups that darken in the desert. The migrants are huddled there by dozens, inside the dumpsters, armed with a few cans of water, biscuits and a little semolina. They then rush on a road each time more expensive and dangerous.
Last stage of Niger before Libya, Madama is already a place of extortion. “At the border, the Nigerien soldiers hit me and demanded 5,000 CFA francs [7,60 euros],” says Insa, a Senegalese. “They search you, they take your money and your phone, adds Babacar, another Senegalese today living in France. There is another checkpoint when you enter Libya. Libyan soldiers are greased to pass the convoy. They work hand in hand with the coxeurs. ”