I left Syria on 26 June 2014. I and my wife went to Lebanon and then we flew to Algeria. We didn’t need a visa, but we had to have 4000 dollars in a bank account or cash. After we arrived in Algiers we went to a place called Oued Souf, trying to find an agent. We found someone who offered to help us travel from Algeria to Libya. Firstly we took a coach and this trip was 16 hours long. Afterwards we walked for 9 more hours through Sahara Desert. After taking two more coaches and walking a bit in between we reached a house. This building was in a very poor condition and we were 52 people sharing two bedrooms. We spent the night in there. In the morning the agent asked us to pay him before starting the journey towards Libya. Each person paid 350 dollars and then we left. After a while we reached some cars that took us to Libya. The pick-up that I was in was packed, full of people. Families, children… It was very dangerous, especially for people standing on the edges of the car that were always close to falling. The agent who helped us travel from Algeria to Libya is called Muhammad Ousala.

When we crossed the border, there was a group of agents waiting for us and almost selling their ‘service’. They were telling us how the journey would be if we would pick them and how much it would cost. All these agents had bodyguards with them, all having weapons. After we chose our agent, Mustafa, we spent one night in the middle of the desert. He promised he would take us to a ferry that would go to Italy. We paid 400 dollars per person so that he would take us from the desert towards the North part of Libya. For the ferry trip we also had to pay 1100 dollars. We were in Debdeb and we had to go to Zuwarah. We were put in some minivans owned by the agent. The vehicles were full of people again and it was very, very hot. The driver of the car that we were in was probably 12 years old. Moreover, he also had a gun with him. After a long trip, two days including breaks, we arrived in Zuwarah. We had a rest for four days, staying in a house that was hosting 500 people. After four days we were supposed to go and take the ferry to Italy. At first we had to walk through the water until it reached our necks. We reached some infl atable boats that had to take us to the big ferry. When we got to the ferry we realised it was full and the agent told us to go back to the shore, for our own safety. We were sent to a different house this time, waiting for the next occasion to take a ferry. Here, every 5 people were sharing a very small portion of food: a pack of beans, a can of tuna, a small piece of cheese and some bread. Fresh food would cost us money, 100 dollars, but that meant one loaf of bread and a bar of chocolate.

Eventually we got to our ferry. We were told that a life vest would cost 50 dollars. Fortunately, we had our own vests bought at the beginning of the trip, in Lebanon. The sea trip was very difficult: a lot of people suffered from seasickness and few other had unnecessary arguments because of the stress. After three days on the sea the Red Cross detected our ship and they helped us. They took us to Lampedusa and then to Verona, Italy. They offered us accommodation in a hotel in Verona for a night, when we had the chance to run away. The plan was to go to the United Kingdom. We managed to go through Italy, Switzerland and arrive in Calais, France. Firstly, we tried to hide in the back of a car and cross the Channel but the police caught us. We tried again because we found an agent who promised we would surely get to the United Kingdom with his help. He asked for 1500 Euro per person. We waited in a parking space for 9 hours, hoping to be able to hide in a lorry. We had no chance over there because there were people telling the lorry drivers about us. We tried so many other times in Dunkirk (France), Netherlands or Belgium but it was very hard. Eventually we met a smuggler from Albania who helped us cross the Channel. We had to pay 12000 pounds for this journey (the money came from my family), but it was a safe journey in a lorry that took us to London.

S.