‘Everything is worthless’: a Yemeni refugee chronicles his journey to the “European paradise”

Monday 20 May 201903:24 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية

“Some sins are nothing more than an attempt to live.”

Amin Taki, 31, used those words to describe his trip to the “European Paradise” which he documented through his Facebook account. Two years ago Amin, a former furniture salesman, left his homeland in Yemen, hoping for stability and a better life in Europe. But the trip was not easy at all, as per his chronicling of the events on Facebook.

"I left Sana'a with one of my girlfriends on the grounds that she was my wife and needed medical treatment in Egypt," Amin told the immigrant news website Muhajir News. “We flew out of Saoon airport (in Hadramout) to Cairo in June 2017.”

Chronicling a difficult journey

In mid-September after he left Egypt, the Yemeni refugee decided to start a diary of his trip to Europe on his Facebook account. On April 18, after entry number 22 of the diary was posted, Amin stopped, despite his story being far from over, saying that “being preoccupied and the troubles of life" prevent him from recording what he endures daily.

Amin described his departure from Yemen to Egypt in his diary: "Yemen from above looked like a badly patched up cloth. So it looked to me when I saw it from the plane on my way to Egypt. As time passed that image caused me great psychological stress, and when I would see an intact building or a streetlight in the streets of Cairo, I would cry like a child whose mother was killed before his eyes in Taiz."

After arriving in Egypt, Amin was registered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for resettlement. While waiting for UNHCR's response, he earned his living preparing Yemeni meals and selling them to people using Facebook.

Amin spent a year and three months in Egypt without any news from the UNHCR, which prompted him to move and start his journey to Europe alone, using smugglers.

The horrors of asylum: beating, exploitation, humiliation

According to Amin's diary, Mauritania was the next destination after Egypt, then on to Algeria alongside other refugees who had arrived through Mali and Azawad. They were stopped by bandits along the way, and then released after paying a ransom.

After arriving in Algeria, Amin tried three times to continue his journey to Spain but failed. Then he tried to reach Morocco and was exploited by human smugglers and intercepted by the Algerian Coast Guard.

In the end, Amin managed to reach Morocco through the city of Nador, a Moroccan city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and a transit point for hundreds of migrants seeking to reach Melilla (an autonomous Spanish city located within Moroccan territory).

"Give me a iron face guard and then punch as you please," Amin wrote, quoting the old Yemeni saying as he recounted to his followers how he was beaten and assaulted by the Moroccan police.

Since his arrival in Morocco, about a month ago, he tried twice to cross the border to reach Melilla, but his left foot was broken during the second attempt, after jumping from the top of an iron fence, which has delayed his goal of reaching Europe.

"I am 31 years old, but I look like an old man struggling with diabetes," Amin said in his diary. "It's not because of my foot injury, but because of the disability that kills my attempts to complete my journey.”

In one of his attempts to enter Melila he dressed in a Moroccan djellaba belonging to a religious order.

"When I was stopped by a Moroccan policeman and he saw my Yemeni passport, he said to me: 'You are entering Spain, not entering Mecca, go away!” he wrote.

Impressions and judgments

In the diary of his journey on Facebook, Amin does not describe his suffering and the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving his "dream" only, but also his impression of every country he travels to. As for why he left Egypt for example, he said: "I could not bear life in Egypt. Going there was a mistake. Everything there is worthless, including the person registered with the United Nations refugee agency."

On Mauritania, he said: “There is no electricity except in some houses and water comes from the well. The villages are few and far apart, and in each small village there is a mosque or two and poverty is rampant.”

On the period he spent in Algeria, he said: “I spoke with many friends in good faith about the problems I faced in Algeria. I asked them for simple loans, without interest," he wrote. “They would reassure me they would help but then they would block my account or stop responding to my messages, which hurts my pride.”

Amin also wrote a great deal about other refugees: “My countrymen don’t know the truth, they kneel on their prayer rugs and pray that angel wings would bear them into Spain. Some of them smoke weed until it is time for the dawn prayers and then they go pray in the mosque. One of them asked me to pray with him that they eyes of the border guards are veiled so we can cross into Spain.”

"The journey to Europe has taken long and my hope is fading and this is not good," Amin wrote in his diary. But despite his frustration and humiliation and the difficulty of the journey he stresses that he "will not allow my strength to fail me and I will not surrender in any way, and I will begin again and keep attempting to enter Melilla."

The conflict in Yemen and the intervention of the Saudi-led alliance has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to the United Nations, in which about 10,000 people were killed. Around 12 million are threatened with starvation, and three million people have been displaced, in addition to half a million refugees who fled the country.

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