“I would like to live like a human being”
Life is very difficult in Eritrea. We have a big problem with the government. Either you leave or you do unlimited military service for your whole life. In theory, you have to start military service when you are 18. In practice you have to start when you are 14. Everyone has to do it. In the military you don’t live like a human. They don’t give you much food and the living conditions are very bad. Even if you work for the government, they treat you very bad. If you work as a teacher, they give you about 5€ per month, no food. I love my country, but I don’t want it to stay in this condition. I want to live like a human being. That’s why I came here. When I was close to 18, the state decided that I should go to the military. They first sent a letter. One of my friends told me how it works: You have to go to the military education for 3 to 6 months. Then they send you to the border and you have to fight. When I got the letter, I stayed 6 weeks without responding the mail. Then the police came and searched for me in my home. At this time I was in the countryside. My mother called to warn me. I stayed in the countryside to hide from them. The police remained for 2 days and searched the house. I decided that I had to leave and I sent my brother to pick up my stuff from home. Now that I left I am scared that they will send my family to prison because they didn’t find me. Usually, for these things, the people stay in prison for at least 6 months. I don’t know anything about my family at the moment; I don’t have contact with them.
When I decided to leave Eritrea, I first went to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. There I met human traffickers. I crossed from Ethiopia to Sudan. I didn’t have any money left, so I had to work in Sudan for one and a half years to get more money and continue. I worked in a café and did all sorts of different jobs. After this time I went to Libya with the smugglers. You never meet the trafficker who organizes everything. The local people know who he is and if you ask around you get the contact. You arrange everything on the phone. I finally went from Sudan to Libya. 1600 km through the desert! I went with a Toyota pick-up. Many people died during this trip. One of my friends died in the desert. If you die, they collect the ID card to notify your family. But the body will stay in the desert. We didn’t have enough food and water. The car was too small to bring it. We were 40 people who stayed in the back of the pickup. Libya is very dangerous. You can easily lose your life there. Everything is controlled by IS. They ask you about your religion. I am Christian but I had to pretend being Muslim, otherwise they would have killed me. They want you to recite a Muslim prayer and see you spelling Arabic. If you cannot do that, they kill you. Luckily I have a Muslim friend who taught me all that.
In Libya we took a boat to cross the Mediterranean. That’s very expensive. The smugglers raise the prices all the time. There are different kinds of boats. The smallest boats are rubber boats for 40 people. My boat was a bit better, made out of wood and with a motor. Still a weak boat, but at least with a motor. We were 420 people. When we crossed the Mediterranean, eventually the Italian coast guards came and saved us. They brought us to Salerno, close to Naples. I then directly went to Rome, from there to Bologna, Bolzano and eventually to Germany with the train. This took me 2 days. I learned about the history of Germany in Eritrea and decided to go there. When I arrived in München, I was transferred to Friedland. Now I am finally sure that I am 100% save. Staying in Eritrea is not secure. But the way to Europe is even worse. I arrived here by chance only. I thank my god for that. I pray for Eritrea.
Now that I am in Germany I would like to learn everything about the culture and the language. I can already say that Germany is my second country. When Eritrea is safe again, I would like to go back and serve my country, meanwhile I stay here and would like to serve Germany. Before, I had a good life in Eritrea too. I went to school and supported my family. Before all of this started.