This was an appalling story. You just can’t conceive the hardship that people have to endure that would make them turn to such a perilous journey and ultimately pay the price with their lives and those of their children.
|We blamed our arid existence.
We were born, we married, we begat, we died.
We wanted new lives.
We sought relief from the poverty, the hunger, the heat.
We thought there must be a better place.
We held belief.
We were given hope.
We’d heard of Europe.
We were told of streets paved in gold.
We were promised shelter, work, home, food.
We were assured our children would be schooled.
We knew there our children would have a chance.
We compared, we imagined, we dreamed, we danced.
We were sold.
We plotted our escape.
We scraped, we saved.
We packed six deep in cattle trucks.
We left behind old lives.
We looked north to the brave new world.
We lumbered over desert sand.
We stalled, stranded in the waste land.
We sent out scouts in search of help.
We waited, we kept faith.
We waited, food depleting.
We waited, water tanks running down.
We waited, admitted we were beaten
We saw futility in dying there.
We despaired of being found.
We rounded up our last supplies.
We held our children close.
We chose to leave hand-in-hand.
We staggered to our promised land.
We watched the souls that rose, abandoned bodies decomposed.
We were the souls that watched the bleaching bones.
We remembered promises we’d been told.
Fools’ gold. Fools’ gold. Fools’ gold.
31st October 2013 – headline from the Guardian
Notes: “Niger migrants died from thirst, after stranding in Sahara desert.” The bodies of 92 people, almost all women and children, have been found in the Sahara desert. Rescuers said the people had died of thirst after their vehicle broke down during their attempt to reach Algeria from Niger. The group was discovered after survivors reached Arlit on foot. Local experts said that the people were victims of human trafficking and were believed to have died two weeks ago as they tried to walk 12 miles in scorching sun to reach a well after the lorry they were travelling in broke down leaving them stranded.
- Niger migrants found dead near Algerian border | World news | theguardian.com (theguardian.com)
- 87 die in Niger after vehicle breakdown strands them in Sahara desert – CNN International (edition.cnn.com)
- Desert victims mourned in Niger (edition.cnn.com)