What a terrible year! I survived bullets, abduction and hunger. I cannot believe that I am still alive.
On 24 March, 2011, I started the journey to Sudan on foot with three of my former colleagues and friends. The rest is traumatic, but I should say we walked all the way to Hafir and then took a bus to Shagarab refugee camp. It took us about forty days to fully get registered with UNHCR. The refugee camp is not safe at all; it’s an isolated space where trafficking, rape and other crimes are being committed with impunity. The UNHCR staff do not seem to care. In fact, some of the UNHCR security guards collaborate with the traffickers in the kidnapping of refugees from the camp. I survived attempts of kidnapping by a UNHCR security guard twice in one week. It felt like the camp was worse than any detention centre in Eritrea.
After I was registered with the UNHCR, I decided to move to Khartoum as it did not feel safe in the camp. I along with my friends and other Eritrean refugees trusted smugglers to take us to Khartoum, but it did not work for us. We had to swim to cross the Nile river near Shagarab camp and then got kidnapped by Sudanese traffickers who then transferred us to Rashaida. Luckily, we survived the ordeal and managed to reach Khartoum after one week. I sustained knife injuries on my hand trying to defend a young Eritrean girl from being raped by the traffickers. I did not know what I was doing, but I had to fight with the armed traffickers with my bare hands. Luckily, I survived and did not get major injuries. The young girl came to Khartoum safe as well. We are now best friends.
It took us about forty days to fully get registered with UNHCR. The refugee camp is not safe at all; it’s an isolated space where trafficking, rape and other crimes are being committed with impunity.
I reached Khartoum in the first week of June 2011. A week later, I got a teaching job at the Eritrean Refugee School in Khartoum. Getting my first paid job was exceptional. I am so happy. I teach Maths, Physics and the science subjects.
Another highlight of the year was my cousin’s wedding. My cousin came from Switzerland to marry his fiancée who came with me to Khartoum from Shagarab camp. They got married at the end of July.
However, Khartoum does not seem to be a safe place. There are constant roundups and abductions on the streets. I do not know where refugees like myself are supposed to feel safe. I do not even think there is a place for me in the world where I can live free of worries. The thought of feeling abandoned and denied safety has dominated my life in Khartoum.