Edwin's Story

Edwin escaped violence in Libya and found safety with Save the Children in Italy

Migrant Displacement

Photo: Hedinn Halldorsson/Save the Children

Save the Children is on the ground in Italy helping survivors of the tragic migrant shipwrecks. Our relief workers spoke with Edwin*, a young teenager whose dreams of a beautiful life in Italy quickly turned into his worst nightmare. Here is his story.

"I used to watch images of Italy on television and I thought what a beautiful place to live. I did not know what to do in my country, we were too poor, had no family and were terrified because of the violence," Edwin said. "The day they killed my brother I had gone with him to Kanu to buy something… I felt that huge explosion, but at that time I was not with him. The moment I realized he was dead, I didn't think twice and I left for Niger."

Edwin spent five days in Niger before getting in touch with local smugglers and leaving with them in a pick-up truck full of 28 other people. It took them three days to cross the Sahara desert – all without food or water. Once the truck arrived at its destination in central Libya, Edwin was kidnapped by traffickers. He had no money to pay them so he was continually shocked by electric rods. After a month of this torture he escaped, only to be captured again and taken to a subterranean prison by militants.

"This second incarceration was even worse than the first one. They beat me up violently on the chest, the legs, everywhere, they wanted money, but I didn't have any. After nine weeks I was spitting blood, I was very sick and they threw me out and left me in the middle of the road. Somebody going by picked me up and took me to hospital."

But at the hospital Edwin was refused treatment, due to the color of his skin. A local pharmacist showed him pity and gave him some medicine to treat the pain in his chest. After he recovered, Edwin began working in a local restaurant to save money in order to make the journey to Tripoli, the largest city in Libya and from where Edwin would eventually make the trip to Lampedusa, Italy. Once there, Edwin began working in a car-washing facility. Life in Tripoli was very dangerous though.

"You even see children carrying rifles and shotguns in the middle of the streets, ready to shoot." Edwin said.

After a bombing at the airport near where Edwin was living, he left on a boat bound for Italy with other refugees. Although Tripoli is only 184 miles south of Lampedusa, the journey took three days on rough and choppy water. Finally in Italy, Edwin's goal is to find work and earn enough money to bring his brother over to safety.

Save the Children is currently working to address the immediate needs of refugee children in Italy and is deeply concerned at the reports of violence experienced and witnessed by children in Libya. Our job is to explain to them their rights; along with assessing any specific health or psychological needs they may have. It's critical to guarantee that survivors of the shipwrecks receive the adequate support they require to deal with the tragedy they have witnessed. Learn more about the work we are doing to help child refugees around the world.


*name has been changed to protect child’s identity

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