The risky journey of Rahwa

First part

The following interview has been conducted with an Eritrean asylum seeker in Kampala, Uganda. I have used a nick name “Rahwa” instead of her real name, for safety matters.

Escape from Eritrea

I was born and in Barentu in 1995 and I grew up there. I fled from my country on 20 November 2011. I left Barentu at 6:00 pm along with other four people and guided by a smuggler named Mohamed-Adem. We were five people, two girls and three boys. We began our journey through a town known as Forto-Sawa, west of Eritrea. Then, we continued the long journey through mountains, valleys and cliffs, and after six days we crossed the Eritrean-Sudanese border on 20 November 2011. The journey was so arduous and exhausting and we suffered fatigue and intense agitation at that time. We were unable to walk because of the inflammation and wounds we suffered on our legs during the journey. We also suffered from hunger and thirsty because of the difficult trip.

Abduction in Sudan

After that, while we thought we had entered Sudan, something happened that we did not expect. A car, which belonged to members of the Rashaida tribe, intercepted us on the way and then the men who were with us managed to run away. Then the Rashaida men abducted us (the two girls) and took us to their place in a remote area in the desert, after three hours of speedy driving. And we were put and detained in a tent, and they threatened us to pay money, if we wanted to be free.

“I do not have money and my family is very poor. My mother has died and my father does not have good work”, I begged the abductors in order to let me free. But, they did not care to my begging and because they ordered me “You call” [for help] I called my father and told him about the incident. Then, sadly my father got fainted and fell down when he heard about my abduction and that thing what I was afraid of about happened unfortunately. Then, I felt very sad and tears fell from my eyes.  I felt deep depression for the decision I took and I felt as if I died two times. My father remained in intense care in the hospital. After about two days, they began to threaten me with a harsh tone to call and bring money. But, again I told them, “I do not have money to transfer”. However, they called to my family by themselves and one of the Rashaida abductors said to me, “they are telling me your father is in a hospital,” and I was very shocked then.

I replied to him by saying, “I told you before; I do not have any supporter”.

They kept threatening me and said, “No problem, we will sell you to others”. Then, I was very deeply worried about that.

A person who I grew with in Barentu, and who was then living in Khartum heard about my abduction through his family. That man called the Rashaida abductor from Khartoum and told him that I did not have any supporter. He begged him and bargained “make a bit discount and I will send you 10,000 Nackfa”, and he made a deal with him. Then, after they agreed, this man sent him the 10,000 Nackfa from Kartoum. After they received the money, they began to treat me less harshly and allowed me to stay out of the cage, where I was closed in, but they did not want to let me free. But, I felt better than before and began to breathe fresh air. Because I had little knowledge of the Arabic language, that helped me and I began to join and converse with their women. In that way, I continued to understand the way the women live and how they dressed (the Hijab dress), and I also I learnt some of their languages and the way they spoke.

After that, they began to put much trust on me. After one month, my friend of Barentu called and urged the Rashaida abductor by saying, “Please let her free”, but he replied to him, “So, send money in order to let her free”. My friend was shocked and got frustrated by the response of the Rashaida man. I also hoped to let me free until that time, because I had a belief that they would let me go one day. But, then when I heard the response, I was very disappointed.

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