#MigrantsLivesMatter: Ali’s Journey


Fourteen-year old Ali and his family are brought to the Sicilian port of Augusta after being rescued by the Italian Coast guard. © IOM 2015

By Itayi Viriri 

Sicily - He just turned 14 years old and yet Ali immediately comes across a natural spokesperson for his family. It seems as if it is something he has been doing for some time now and is naturally expected of him.

As he explains his family's long journey from Sudan, his mother looks on and at the same time tends to Ali's siblings, 12 year old Fatima and 8 year old Ibrahim who is now on his second small carton of juice (adults each get a bottle of water) given to all children getting off the Italian Coast guard vessel that has just brought them and at least 442 other migrants - mostly Egyptians, Sudanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Somalis and Eritreans - into the Sicilian port of Augusta.

"We’ve been on a boat at sea for 7 or 8 straight days, I think," he says, looking for affirmation from his mother, who nods nonchalantly.

"We left Alexandria in Egypt over a week ago and it has taken us a long time to get here." He tells IOM that despite the difficult journey they have undertaken they feel “very lucky to have arrived here."

Asked why he felt that, he simply says, "We arrived."  Asked if he, his family and other people on boat have heard about the other migrants whose boats have not made it, "yes" is his answer.

His biggest fear? Being separated from his family.

Whereas a large number of the arrivals have some form of luggage, Ali and his family have nothing. Their only belongings are the clothes they are wearing.

Before he and his family are moved on to the next identification procedure, his sister Fatima whispers into his ear to ask IOM (if we know) when they are going to get some food.

"We have not eaten any proper food for days now," he tells the IOM wearily as he unzips his bright turquoise jacket. It is well over an hour since the Comandante Bettica arrived at port and the mid-morning sun is getting warmer.

With a very brief (wry) smile he says matter-of-factly that the weather is not too bad here and that it is not nearly as cold as it was on the boat that took them from Alexandria.

He is then moved on with his family and the first group of roughly half of the arrivals to a temporary camp within Augusta for further processing and hopefully something to eat.

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Itayi Viriri is an IOM Media and Communications Officer

Itayi Viriri is an IOM Media and Communications Officer - See more at: http://weblog.iom.int/names-behind-statistics#sthash.wiOMuquP.dpuf