One of the 158 people deported from Libya on Thursday, May 11, Beauty John, has recounted her heart-wrenching experience in Libya.
The 22-year-old Edo state indegene got to know she was pregnant when she was on her way to Italy through the desert in search of a better life.
Describing the horror she faced, the nursing mother said:
“One of my aunts, who stays in Italy, visited Benin and told some of us to come over, promising to help us secure jobs. Five of us made up our minds to go, but at the end, I was the only one who could raise money for the trip.
“On July 11, 2016, some other male friends and I left Benin for Sokoto state, through the desert. We got to Libya a week after and stayed somewhere in preparation for the trip to Italy by sea.
“Unfortunately, we were caught by some security agents. After profiling us, we were taken to a cell in the desert, where I spent five months.
“While in the cell, I discovered I was pregnant for my boyfriend, who lives in Benin. My experience in the desert cell could best be described as hell. Sometimes, we were given a slice of bread as breakfast and watery spaghetti for diner. No lunch.
“Some inmates I met in the cell died as a result of malnutrition and lack of proper medical care, while others lost their sight.
“I also fell sick. That I gave birth and we are both alive today is a miracle.
“After giving birth, my baby cried for days without food, as my br*asts were not bringing out milk. I was advised to put it in his mouth like that. I cried and regretted embarking on the journey. I thought my baby and I will die of starvation.
“Finally, help came my way when the Nigerian Ambassador to Libya visited the cell and asked if we would like to go back home. I am grateful to God that I am alive to share my story.”
Another deportee, Michael, claimed he lost his sight inside the underground cell he was kept with other illegal migrants for 11 months.
“I am an only child of a widow. I lost my father at the age of 10 and my mother has been going through a lot to keep us going. I had to defer my admission to study Accounting at the Auchi Polytechnic because my mother could not afford the fees.
“It was at that point that I decided to go to Europe for a better living condition and also assist my mother.
“But that turned out to be my greatest undoing because as I speak with you, I cannot see clearly due to the underground cell I was kept for 11 months, in the desert, without proper feeding. I am glad to be back home where there is freedom.”
The south-west zonal director, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internal Displaced Persons, Mrs Ngozi Okefo, who was among the agencies that received the deportees, explained that the returnees would be counselled before reintegration into the society.
She said: “Parents and guardians should stop sponsoring their wards abroad through illegal routes, where they end up becoming slaves.”