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  • on 02.08.2014
  • at 02:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Time is running out for refugees seeking asylum in Italy 0

Lucca, Italy – His journey started four years ago in Conakry, Guinea. Now that Mamoudou* has finally reached Italy, he hopes this will be his final stop.

When he first left his home, his plan was to stay in Libya, but after the 2011 crisis, when Gaddafi’s government was overthrown, life in the country became very hard for migrants. “I was jailed 28 times, and tortured,” he told IPS, “so I decided to come to Italy, because it’s a democracy and I hope I will have a peaceful and secure life here.”

Together with 13 other asylum seekers from Mali, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Mamoudou is now living in a tiny village in the Tuscan mountains, where the ‘Partecipazione e Sviluppo’ association is taking care of his application.

They all arrived between April and June from Libya, where they had migrated to escape conflicts and hunger and it is now painful for them to recall how their voyage took.

“In order to smuggle me to the Libyan coast, they put me in the boot of a car,” says Mamoudou. “I don’t know how many hours I spent there and what day I left Libya, but my registration documents say I arrived in Sicily on April 11.”

He paid the equivalent of 1,000 dollars to human traffickers to share a boat with 80 people and no skipper. “They told us where the North was and that we should have taken turns steering. When the Italian Navy found us, we had no idea where we were and the boat was already sinking.”

Since the tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa, which left more than 350 migrants dead in October last year, the Italian authorities have started a rescue operation called ‘Mare Nostrum’ (Our Sea). Mamoudou is one of the more than 80,000 migrants that have been saved since the operation started, winning appreciation from human rights NGOs and European Union authorities.

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By Silvia GiannelliIPS 

Photo credit: Flickr

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