I., Age: 20, Ivory Coast

29 September 2017

My partner and I left Ivory Coast about 5 months ago. We crossed Burkina Faso, then Niger and spent 40 days in Agadez. Eventually, a trafficker brought us to Sabah in Libya. In Sabah, I paid another trafficker who was supposed to bring us to Tripoli but he sold us instead. We were brought to a prisoner near Tripoli called “Mitiga” and separated. I was able to pay for the release of my partner thanks to the help of my family but I remained in the prison for another 4 months.

I experienced great violence in this prison and was beaten every day. I was tortured with my family on the phone. They were forced to listen to the atrocities inflicted on me and told to pay my ransom. They would tie my legs and hang me, face down. They would hit me forcefully on the bottom of my feet. At times, they would drench me in water and then hit me all over my body with hard plastic tubes. I would feel this intense pain and my skin would swell and turn red. Then, the marks would disappear. Once, an Arab man cut my hand with a knife. I saw many people killed for futile reasons and at times, just for fun. I was often scared of dying. I would think that I was never going to leave the prison and see my partner, pregnant with our son, again.

I was able to escape after a group of armed bandits raided our prison and let us prisoners free. In this part of Libya there are two opposing factions of traffickers who control the traffic of migrants and the prisons: the Zawia faction and the Sabratah faction. I had been held in a prison controlled by men of the Sabratha faction, while it was the men of the Zawia group who had raided the prison and freed us. Upon freeing us, these men divided us into two groups while some prisoners ran away.  We were led into a foyer called “Saboshrin” ran by a Libyan man and his Tunisian wife. I spent 15 days in the foyer and saw the Arabs take away many men who did not come back. Some people were killed in front of my eyes. I departed for Italy on the 25th of September.

This testimony was gathered at the Pozzallo Hotspot on the 29th of September 2017