S.Leonean Migrants Return Home With… Horrible Experience


Many of us refuse to take the advice of others because we have not seen and gone through what they had experienced in life. Therefore, we find it hard to believe what they say. As such, dozens of our young compatriots, who refused to be advised that taking the “Temple Run” to reach Europe in search of greener pastures is a highly risky venture, have returned home empty handed.

Having left home with dreams of a better and prosperous life in Europe and America, they have returned home with their hopes and dreams shattered but much wiser than when they left. Not wanting their brothers and sisters to go through the hell that they passed enroute to North Africa, and the horrible life that they lived, they have undertaken sensitization tours of communities in the Western Area to persuade those contemplating to take the back route to Europe via North Africa to think twice or even thrice before taking the venture.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, The Exclusive published series of articles on the dangers and realities of undocumented migration with a view to informing the public that though some are lucky in ultimately reaching Europe, for the vast majority of adventurers, their dreams are aborted in Niger, The Gambia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.

Leaving illegally in these crossing-point countries in their dream of reaching Southern Europe, many quickly run out of money and became slaves and prostitutes. Abandoned by the people smugglers, they are left on their own with hardly anybody friendly, kind or sympathetic to turn to for help. Some fall prey to kidnappers that hold them for ransom. Others that are not fortunate to reach North Africa die on the harsh crossing through the hostile Sahara Desert from thirst, hunger or the vehicle transporting them breaking down and their smugglers abandoning them in the middle of the desert.

One female illegal migrant reports that she is trapped in Egypt where she was taken by a fellow Sierra Leonean who tried to force her into prostitution and is begging for something to be done to bring her back home. Last year, the social media was inundated with reports of scores of young female Sierra Leoneans facing the same plight in Kuwait, who begged the Ministry of Labor and the Government to bring them back home, claiming that they were being held as prisoners.

For those who are lucky to make it to Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany, another hell awaits them. With the EU countries having tightened control on illegal immigrants, undocumented migrants are cramped in detention camps while waiting for the outcome of their application for asylum. So frustrating is the wait, which can last for several years, with uncertainty whether your application would be granted or not, that many illegal migrants wish they had never taken the venture.

For those who are granted permission to live in European countries, many of them report that they are struggling. “It is not easy,” reports one of them living in Germany. “Bills are killing us,” he moans. “Everything is against us,” he adds dejectedly. A Sierra Leonean living in the United States who is writing his dissertation on undocumented migration reports that there are over 15 million illegal migrants in the US who he says do not have money to return home or to move from where they are trapped to go to any other state.

The Sierra Leoneans who have returned from hell are now telling their brothers and sisters not to take the venture. Having seen that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, they want to convince their brothers and sisters to use the money that they pay to people smugglers (anything from $2, 000 to $5, 000) to use it to start life here.

And having returned home with nothing to their name or credit, (some of them it is reported were doing well when they decided to abandon what they had and join the Temple Run), they are looking up to the government to see what it can do for them to make a fresh start.

Meanwhile, thousands of undocumented Sierra Leonean migrants living in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy and other Western European countries are living daily in fear and torment as they await deportation after their applications of asylum were turned down.