It took an Eritrean migrant saved by the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti three and a half years to go from Sudan to Milan, Italy. ''One dies in Libya,'' Josief said.
Josief Kesete, 25, is Eritrean. His journey towards Italy began from Khartoum in Sudan, where he lived with relatives to save money for the trip. It was a ''long and difficult journey, which lasted a total of 3 years and 7 months. I left in 2015'', he said in the Caritas Ambrosiana Casa Suraya migrant reception centre in Milan.
Josief had arrived at the center the previous night along with seven others - four women and three men who he calls ''siblings, even if we are not relatives'', all of whom had been brought ashore by the Diciotti.
He is the only one of the eight asylum seekers who arrived in the Lombard regional capital who decided to tell - through the help of a cultural mediator - the nightmare he went through to reach Italy.
Warmly welcomed by the Diciotti
''I am lucky to be here. We were told that we were welcomed thanks to the pope,'' Josief said, since ''they told us that the former government isn't there anymore and that the new government did not want any more refugees and for this reason, we were stuck on the ship and could not get off. The head of the ship said: 'I saved you, I brought you thus far, but it is the government that does not want you to get off'' the boat.
With the crew of the Diciotti ''we were welcomed, they were very kind and they gave us first aid'', he said. They had been at the mercy of the sea, prior to being saved ''for two days and two nights. There were over 190 people on old wooden boats, with rough seas. There was a lot of wind and we were afraid. When we saw land, we were happy and understood that we had been saved.''
'I saw my companions die' in Libya
Josief said that he had paid 5,000 euros to get to Italy and that he had been put in jail in Libya for a year and a half. ''We were kidnapped and tortured. I saw my companions die. People killed, hunger and thirst. In Libya, one can die. Some friends who paid and managed to leave were kidnapped and imprisoned again. There is no freedom where we are from.We are young and we want to be free. We are confident that everything will go well,'' he said.
In Eritrea, Josief left his entire family of farmers who he has not heard from in over a year. ''When I arrived in Sicily, they gave us money to phone home. I tried but the line wasn't working and I was unable to speak to my mother. I let other relatives in Sudan know that I arrived safe and sound and I hope they will tell them.''