Militias in Libya closes sea route on Gambians, others

Back way

Zuwarah is a Libyan city that has been a major launch pad for Gambians and other African migrants and refugees sailing from Africa to Europe but a militia group in the northernmost city has taken up arms, according to reports, against smugglers behind the trafficking ring.

A Washington Post series which exams “the causes and impact of a global wave of migration driven by war, oppression and poverty” has followed a Gambian who, with his African colleagues, are determined to cross the sea route to Italy, but have had their dreams crossed between the desire of the local militias and the lucrative business of the human traffickers.

Amadou should have left Libya for Italy but he said his departure time to cross the Mediterranean Sea was stalled by another migrant boat accident at sea a day before he left Libya.

“Just give me a few days,” the trafficker reportedly told Amadou over the phone. “We need to wait for this thing to calm down.”

According to the American Paper’s description, Amadou is 26, “short and thin with a big toothy smile, boy-like except for the goatee he is trying to grow”.

He knows about the danger in crossing the Mediterranean illegally, how the journey has killed about 3,000 people this year.

When friends asked if he could swim, Amadou replied: “I sink like a stone in the river.” Everyone would laugh, but it was also true, and it scared him.

Amadou said he left The Gambia after selling his market stall in Serrekunda for D8, 750 ($250) and begging his uncles and cousins for more.

Eventually, Amadou had the $2,300 he needed to travel “the Backway,” to Europe.

Zuwarah had shut down the smugglers, but that didn’t mean Amadou’s journey was over.

He would find the money, he declared in a Facebook message.

He would find the driver. He had learned that you could will yourself across any border if you were ready to risk enough.

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