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My true Story

Abdul Kader

First of all, my name is Kone Tiemoko Abdul Kader. I come from the Ivory Coast. It all started in my home country: Ivory Coast. Life was not really easy for me in Ivory Coast, so I decided to leave my country to look for a better future. I was only 15 years old when I ended up in Mali. I didn't know anyone, I had no idea where to sleep or work. I arrived at a train station in Mali. I started to sleep outside this station. Soon, I made a friend who was about the same age as me and who worked with wheelbarrows to help passengers carry their luggage to the taxi station. I started to work with him in that station. One day, he asked me if I wanted to go with him to Algeria to live with his older brother. At first I refused, but my friend was a bit older than me and he always tried to convince me to go with him under the pretext that we would have a better future there, that life would be good for us. He even promised to pay for my transport. After some time I decided to take up his offer and go with him. We left Bamako and ended up in Gao, a town in the north of Mali. Then we crossed the desert with other people we met in Gao. When we arrived in Algeria at his older brother's house, I had to work and pay back the transport that his brother had paid for me – after he had promised to pay for me and I felt betrayed. So we stayed there for a while. But in 2018 Algerian soldiers were hunting black people to deport them. Just picking you up and dropping you off in the desert! What kind of repatriation is that? If it had been a repatriation to your own country, we could have understood... My friend's older brother decided that we would travel to a small village called Debdeb, close to the Libyan border, to hide from the soldiers. We planned to return to Algiers, when they would stop looking for black people. While we were in this village, the deportations got more serious and soldiers also started looking in smaller villages. At one point, they even went to the villages to look for black people. My friend and his older brother decided to leave Algeria for Libya, since the village was already near the border. We felt there was no other choice, so we crossed the border into Libya. The very first village we arrived in, we got arrested and were locked up in a private prison. From this prison, they decide how much you have to pay in order to be released. I didn't have any money so my friend and his older brother left me there as they only paid for themselves. Those who didn't pay, were beaten so that they would call their parents to pay. There was another option: to work in the fields to get your freedom. I spent about nine months in prisons working in the fields without being paid. Eventually, with the grace of God, together with some other people I managed to escape from there. We found ourselves in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. While in Tripoli, we stood on big roundabouts to be able to find work. One day, an Arabic speaking guy drove by and pointed at me and another young man to come with him. So we got into his car. He drove out of Tripoli and went to a village not far. When we got there, we worked for him, but after finishing the work he refused to pay us and to take us back to where he had picked us up in the morning. He said that from now on we would always work for him. So we worked for him, we were always watched. Some days, he gave us food, some days he didn't. This went on for a while. One day he said he was going to help us go to Europe, that he had friends who take people to Europe in zodiacs (inflatable boats). Deep down, I didn't want to and I told him, but between choosing to go to Europe or staying with him to work for free forever... I didn't have much choice but to go. One night, he put us in his car to take us to his friends. It was there that I saw all kinds of people of different nationalities, coming from subsaharan Africa. In the same night, we were transported like objects to a place near the sea. At this point I did not want to get into the boat because I had no faith that the boat would make it to Europe, and feared that we would all die at sea. And my dream was never to go to Europe anyway. But I was forced to get in the boat – other people were also forced to get into it and that's how we left. During the following day, we had no idea where we were and our zodiac was losing speed. Later we saw a helicopter above us. A few hours later we saw a big boat coming towards us. When the boat arrived they asked us where we came from. We said: "Libya". Someone from the ship told us that the helicopter personnel had given him the order to come and rescue us. So we stayed calm and got onto the big boat. It was that same boat that we got arrested on when we arrived in Malta; we were just trying to calm people down. Because of that we spent seven months and twenty days in prison and we are still in legal proceedings. Since I'm out of the prison I try to find work and live my life. In June 2020, I was working with a construction company and I fell off the third floor. Luckily, I only broke my leg. I feel lucky and I thank God that I am still alive. For months I was walking on crutches and couldn't work. I am still in pain every day. I've got some long metal plates in my hips and leg and am waiting for another operation for them to be taken out. That scares me, because I'm afraid I will again miss work and lose my job.