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Agadez/ Niger: We meet Muhammed Yusuf a 24 year old Nigerian from Kachma at a dusty bus stop in Agadez in the northern neighboring state of Niger. He was chosen by his family as the strongest and cleverest of his clan. Since the 1980 most of them are unemployed. For those growing up, Europe seems to be the only realistic perspective. But he’s back again, back from Libya , where on his planned route to Europe he was sold and tortured for months. Unseen by us a man emerges from the masses who are flooding the oasis city of Agadez on the edge of the Sahara. It is Yusuf’s people’s smuggler. Yususf shouts at him, that because of him his friend had to die in Libya. Abhai (not his real name) just shrugs his shoulders, says he’s sorry. Desperate and hungry Yusuf aks him if he at least has something to eat. Abhai answers in passing “God will help you”

 Today Agadez is the northernmost city that west Africa’s  without papers can reach – a part of the economic zone of  west African states that guarantees visa free travel in the area. That makes Agadez the point where most of those with the dream of a better life get into the hands of the people smugglers. But Yusuf is back from this Odyssey sobered, burnt out and hopeless. He wouldn’t be able to survive going back to his Parents. Using the collected savings of his family he and a friend Bundu started off months ago on their way to Agadez. He had been warned by his friends of the dangers of life in Libya and not to entrust himself to the wrong people’s smugglers. But Abahi seemed honest to them and so they booked a passage with him via Algeria to Italy. He knew that there was a way through the Sahara to Algeria, but in the desert there are no signposts and after four days he heard “Welcome to Libya”. Yusuf thought he was dreaming but soon noticed that Abhai had sold him and his friend Bundu to an intermediary. His hands were bound and together with others four of them were bundled like goats and loaded on to the back of a  Toyota. In the Libyan city of Sabha , known as the birthplace of the Libyan leader Gaddafi , they were dumped at a well-known bakery on to the roadside next to a sign which said “for sale”. In Sabha he and his friend were bought by a local man by the name of Tukur in traditional robes who was accompanied by two bulky minions. “ In Turku’s house they only spoke English and shouted money money money. We were to call our families and ask them to send 100 Dollars as a ransom. Our parents said they couldn’t possible pay. We are then beaten so that they could hear our screams and complaints over the phone. I had to see my friend Bundu die due to the beating”.

 In the confusion over his friend’s death he was lucky enough to escape. A driver took pity on him and then recovered the cost of picking him up from the International Organization of UN for migrants. They also paid for the transport of thousands of the unfortunates back to city of Agadez in Niger. The UN agency is also willing to pay for Yusuf’s ticket back to his parents, but Mohammed Yusuf would rather die of shame. “I have messed it up and I have only myself to blame”

   

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