(CNN) Eritrean migrants in Libyan prison tell CNN they want to go home

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 11:47:22 -0400

"About one-third of the migrants are from Eritrea on the east coast of
Africa. They denied they were heading to Europe and told CNN they just
want to go home, which is several thousands of miles away."

Pregnant women among African migrants trying to cross sea to Europe

By Nick Paton Walsh, Steve Almasy and Greg Botelho, CNN

Updated 7:02 AM ET, Fri April 24, 2015

Tripoli, Libya (CNN)It took one Somali woman seven months and 4,000
miles to trek to Libya. From there, she hoped to cross the
Mediterranean Sea so her baby could be born in Europe. She didn't get

She was arrested as she was sailing north and is now one of 350
migrants being held in a facility just outside Tripoli.

Other pregnant women fleeing repression have come to Libya -- many
fleeing fighting that refuses to stop. They, like male migrants, are
willing to risk their lives on crowded boats to make the final part of
the trip.

The Somali woman's baby, Sabrine, was born a week after she was detained.

Libyan officials are in a quandary. The prison head admitted to CNN
there is no system in place to send these people home, jail them or
let them go.

About one-third of the migrants are from Eritrea on the east coast of
Africa. They denied they were heading to Europe and told CNN they just
want to go home, which is several thousands of miles away.

In one sense, they are fortunate, even though the time in prison seems
like forever. They are alive.

Many others have died when smugglers' ships sink. Bodies wash up on
Libyan beaches. They are anonymous -- no IDs, no links to who they
were and what was in their past that drove them to try the dangerous

Many deaths

In Malta, there are similar stories of death.

On Thursday, the bare, stark caskets came in one by one on the
shoulders of Maltese soldiers.

The tears soon came along with them.

That was the scene in a tent outside the Mater Dei Hospital in
Valletta, Malta, a chance for citizens and dignitaries to remember 24
of what's thought to be hundreds of migrants killed when their crammed
ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea.

Almost all the other victims haven't been accounted for yet, with the
presumption that their bodies remain trapped inside the 66-foot
(20-meter) boat that capsized late Saturday roughly 70 miles (113
kilometers) north of Libya. Italian authorities have said that many of
the estimated 850 aboard had been locked in the ship's lower levels
with no way out.

Why I fled: Migrants share their stories

The tragedy has prompted questions about the growing migrant crisis
facing Europe, as well as about who is responsible for Saturday's
tragedy. The Catania, Italy, prosecutor's office announced Tuesday
that the vessel's 27-year-old captain, Mohammed Ali Malek, and crew
member Mahmud Bikhit have been arrested on suspicion of "reckless
shipwreck, multiple manslaughter (and) abetting clandestine
immigration" for their roles in the disaster.

Those questions still need to be answered. But Thursday, at least, was
a day for reflection -- about lives snuffed out simply because people
wanted a better life.

"This event reminds us that we are all immigrants and our life is a
journey of migration," Imam Mohammed El Sadi said at Thursday's
funeral. "Our grandparents Adam and Eve, peace be onto them, emigrated
from heaven to earth. We emigrated from our mothers' wombs to this
world, and we will immigrate to the graves."

The deaths are the latest illustration of the increasing flow of
migrants from North Africa and the Middle East through the
Mediterranean and into Europe -- assuming they survive the trip.

Gemma Parkin, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, said that the
number of migrants who have fled to find refuge in Europe has
skyrocketed 70% this year over last, a dramatic rise that she
attributed mostly to the deteriorating security situation in Libya.

About 8% of the recorded migrants between January and April 19 of this
year are children, Parkin said. Of those, 70% aren't unaccompanied by
adults -- some of them as young as 9 years old.

Such numbers represent only people rescued at sea or caught once they
reach land. Frontex, the European Union's border management agency,
says that many illegal immigrants get through without being detected;
moreover, most of them come in legally via airports and then overstay
their visas.
Received on Sat Apr 25 2015 - 11:48:01 EDT

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