A Nigerian woman has shared her horrific experience as a refugee with the United Nations Refugee Agency. Hope* was travelling from Libya to Italy with her three daughters when their dinghy capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Only Hope and one of her daughters survived.
The family had fled Nigeria to escape the violence everywhere, which was so bad Hope had to lock her daughters inside their flat if she wanted to go outside. Hope led her children across the desert to Libya, where she paid a smuggler to transport them to Italy. The family were just 4 in 130 passengers crammed onto the rubber dinghy. No one had life jackets and very few knew how to swim.
Halfway through the trip, the engine died and the refugees had to wait for rescue. Finally a boat came into view, and Hope’s 10-year-old daughter Mercy* comforted her: “Don’t cry, Mama. Rescue ship is coming.” The child’s words were the last Hope would hear her speak; moments later, the dinghy flipped. Hope’s 14-month-old baby drowned along with Mercy.
Hope now lives under the protection of the UN Refugee Agency in Italy. Thousands of refugees continue to make the dangerous passage to Europe, despite many dying along the way. The UNHCR says more than 8,500 refugees have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Those that arrive safely are provided with shelter, basic healthcare, food and water thanks to USA to UNHCR donors.
To find out how you can help people like Hope, visit unrefugees.org.
* Name changed for protection