Eritrea’s totalitarian state and climate of repression, violence – has prompted hundreds of people to flee every day.
Semere Netsereab was a student living a middle-class life with his parents until he fled Eritrea for the UK in September 2003.
Semere explained, “the decision to leave your loved ones behind is not easy.” Semere left Eritrea due to the government’s regime – he wanted to be ‘free’.
“I WAS TIRED OF LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER”
SEMERE NETSEREAB, REFUGEE
When Semere left he crossed the border to Sudan from Eritrea and lived in the capital for two years, working to make enough money to pay smugglers for his travel to the UK.
With a pale expression and tremble in his voice, Semere recalls the start of his journey, “we walked for three weeks in the Sahara desert – I was dehydrated, starving and tired.” Before arriving in Libya Semere buried three lives who did not make it.
“THE SAND BLEW IN MY EYES AS WE DUG THEIR GRAVES.”
SEMERE NETSEREAB, REFUGEE
In Libya, Semere faced the worst human violation’s, he was treated like ‘an animal’. After preparations were made, Semere and others boarded a boat to sail across the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of arriving in Italy.
An hour into their journey, the engine went down. ” We were ambushed continuously by waves, rain and cold,” said Semere. “I found myself leaning on a dead body for hours, I witnessed a woman giving birth and I remember someone saying there are thousands of untold stories deep down in the sea. ”
Audio: part of Semere’s Journey.
After being rescued by the Italian navy he boarded a train to Calais where he joined hundreds of destitute’s. While at the port Semere stated, “the adversity of winter and the constant chase by police were unbearable.” Semere left and arrived safely in the UK via a lorry.
Semere pleads that those in a similar situation say and not gamble with their lives. “Live with your dignity in your country and die with honour in your land.“
Semere is now living and studying in Nottingham. Semere expressed his gratitude to the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum. “They supported me to integrate into the community, grow myself esteem and confidence and start a new life,” Semere explained.
Although Semere is safe many are still in danger. Charity director of Bail for Immigration Detainees(BID), Celia Clarke urges the government to do more to protect lives like Semere.
Audio: Celia plea for society to do more.
- 59.5 million people are displaced worldwide.
- There are an estimated 126,000 refugees and 38,878 people applying for asylum applications.
- Eritreans account for the largest group of people applying for asylum in the UK, with 3,726 Eritreans applying in the year ending September 2015.