The following story was originally compiled for the Mixed Migration Review 2019 and has been reproduced here for wider access through this website’s readership.
4Mi survey conducted in Tripoli, August 2019.
I am 29 and was unemployed in Mali. I have had no education. There was a lot of insecurity and violence, including domestic violence. If I had stayed, I might have been forced into a marriage. But the main reason I wanted to leave was that there were no opportunities at home. I want to go to France too because I have some family there. There are job prospects and the social security system is good. If all goes well, I’ll earn enough money to send some home. I might even meet a partner.
My journey began after friends and family put me in touch with a smuggler. He was also a migrant who helped plan and organise the whole journey. I don’t see him as a criminal or someone who exploited me. I always knew what I was letting myself in for because people who had already travelled from my country, Mali, to France, and others who had returned, told me all about their journeys and what their lives were like abroad.
From Mali I rode in cars and pick-up trucks to Agadez in Niger and then on to Libya. In Libya I stayed in several towns, to get money for the next parts of my trip. A lot of bad things happened in that country.
In Qatrun, I saw security forces sexually assault other migrants. In Sabha, I had to pay $200 in bribes to government officials. In Bani Walid, officials held me for ransom for a week.
I arrived in Tripoli in August 2019 and am now waiting to go on to France. All in all, the journey so far has been tough. It would have been easier with more money and medical assistance. I would most like to have had safe spaces for women. I have spent $900 to get this far, about $300 more than I had expected. $400 went to smugglers.
But the next part of the journey could be the hardest. Many migrants are detained here and crossing the Mediterranean is very dangerous – there are no rescue boats any more to help people who get shipwrecked. When the Libyan coast guard finds people on the water, they bring them back and detain them too.
If I get to France, I will not apply for asylum but plan to live irregularly. I hope to find a job within the first six months, most likely as a domestic worker. I am not sure whether I will bring additional family members to join me, but for now, I’d like to stay in France permanently if I can and not return to Mali. And even after everything I went through, I would encourage other people in Mali to migrate too.
‘Views from the ground’ presents six stories from migrants and refugees on the move, drawn directly from their responses to the 4Mi survey. As the surveys consist almost entirely of multiple-choice questions, these narratives, while presented in the first person, are not verbatim quotations, but they do faithfully reflect respondents’ answers and the geopolitical context of their journeys. 4Mi does not record names or other personally identifiable information and so all names are aliases.