Europe’s migrant influx: ‘we need help but we don’t know where from’

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With a bandana on her head and a three-month-old baby at her feet, Azeb Brahana stands in the gardens of Catania’s train station and looks a little lost. The 25-year-old Eritrean left her country in 2012, aware, she says, that the life she wanted was not possible in a country with mandatory national service. To get here, she says, she worked for a year in Sudan and endured months in a Libyan jail, where the United Nations estimates thousands of refugees and migrants are being held in deplorable conditions. It was in prison that Brahana gave birth to her son, and it is because of him that she is determined to make it, finally, to a place of safety and stability. “Somewhere I can live with my baby, happy,” she says. Somehow, though, despite all that she has been through, that still feels like a very distant dream.

African asylum seekers rescued off boats and taken aboard an Italy navy ship, 8 June. Photograph: Massimo Sestini/eyevine

African asylum seekers rescued off boats and taken aboard an Italy navy ship, 8 June. Photograph: Massimo Sestini/eyevine

Like almost 60,000 others this year, Brahana decided to brave the Mediterranean sea in order to reach Italy, and therefore Europe. She paid people-smugglers $1,600 (£950), she says, to board a boat packed with more than 300 people. “It’s really hard with a small baby,” she says stoically of a journey that has proved deadly for thousands over the past 20 years. Her boat was intercepted by an Italian navy ship last week and all its passengers taken to safety. The question for them now is what comes next. Brahana, like many of the refugees and migrants landing in Italy, has not yet requested asylum and is not in the care of an official structure. She is waiting for the bus to Rome, where her aunt lives. And then? “I don’t know,” she admits. “I want to work. I can’t live in my country because of the government. We need help but we don’t know where from.” Read More at the Guardian

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