"If another chance comes up I would go after my dream"
“I am aiming to be a construction engineer one day,” says Mubarak Abdullah, a 21-year-old Sudanese national.
“I just want to make my life better.”
Mubarak was travelling from Libya to Italy when his boat stopped working on July 24th, and he had to be rescued by Libyan coast guards. International Medical Corps and the UNHCR met Mubarak at Abo Setta Navy Base, shortly after he was rescued, to ask him about his journey from Libya to Italy.
Mubarak had been living in Libya since 2016, first as a vegetable seller in Tripoli, and then in construction, but the country was always a temporary destination for him. He moved there with only one goal in mind: collecting enough money to allow him to travel to Italy.
“My goal was to study once I arrived in Italy - the reason why I cared so much about making money in a short time. Although living in Libya was tough, the money I’ve collected was enough for me to take the first step toward my dream in Italy. I wanted to learn and we don’t have such opportunities in my country.”
Since war broke out in Libya in 2011, the country has faced ongoing economic and political instability, impacting over three million people and limiting their access to basic services, safety and security. International Medical Corps first deployed teams to Libya to provide emergency medical services in 2011 and is still operating today, with funding from the European Union, to support internally displaced persons and refugees and provide relief to the country’s fractured health system.
Libya is also a popular country for the start of migrant crossings to Italy; more than 90% of refugees and migrant crossings to Italy begin in Libya. The high amount of crossings, and the danger of these travels, has also led International Medical Corps to operate a sea rescue programme, to save people from boats that have sunk or are no longer operational. The organisation, along with the UNHCR, works from Abo Setta Navy Base, where migrants like Mubarak are brought after they are rescued, so that their medical needs as well as any other needs can be provided for.
Mubarak is one of countless refugees living in camps, often waiting for months for their turn to cross the sea to Italy - their fate resting in the hands of human smugglers.
“When it was finally our turn, the conditions weren’t much better.” Mubarak describes the trip as uncomfortable, on a boat of very poor quality. "Then, the journey got much worse. The engines stopped working,” Mubarak says, “and I felt like my chances of arriving to Italy were vanishing. It was impossible to find any solution, so we had to be picked up by the Libyan coast guards.
“If we had a better engine, we could have arrived, but when bad luck stands as an obstacle against your dream, there’s nothing you can do.”
Mubarak was just one of over 150 people on that boat. International Medical Corps' team conducted 28 medical consultations and distributed water, juice, biscuits and sea rescue kits to the rescued migrants. Despite this outcome, Mubarak is still hopeful for the future and maintains his goal of becoming a construction engineer one day.
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