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From Afghanistan to Rome: The challenges refugees face when fleeing their homeland

2013-06-22

DAWOOD
Refugee from Afghanistan
"I traveled by foot from Afghanistan to Iran. I walked day and night and often I hid inside a truck with no food or water for hours. Then I got to Turkey; I traveled all the way to Istanbul, then I looked for a lift to get to Greece. I used an inflatable raft to get from Izmir to Athens. Then I had to reach the port of Patras, so I hid underneath a truck, under the trailer near the wheels. After that, I finally got to southern Italy.”

But not everyone makes it to their destination.  Since 1988, over 19,000, women and children have died while trying to cross the sea from Africa to Italy. In 2013 alone, over 13,000 immigrants have made it to the Italian coast. For those who make it, their journey is one they cannot forget.

HADGU
Refugee from Eritrea
"Once we were boarding a raft when suddenly the police caught us. They beat up me and my friends but for some reason I managed to get up. I don't know why I did that. The police thought I was challenging them so they hit me on the back with a Kalashnikov and I lost consciousness. I can't remember anything. When I woke up, I was in a garage. I stayed there for a week with no food.”

To commemorate those who have died while embarking on the so-called 'journeys of hope', a prayer vigil was also organized in Rome's Santa Maria in Trastevere Church. The ceremony was lead by Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò and was attended by representatives of all Christian confessions.


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