Thursday, May 28, 2015

Migration organization assist 2,000 Ethiopians returning from Yemen - new Business Ethiopia (nBE)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided post arrival assistance to some 2,061 vulnerable Ethiopians returning from Yemen. They have included people injured in the conflict, as well as those in need of transport and accommodation, according to the press statement of IOM.
IOM is providing accommodation at its transit centre in Addis Ababa, onward transportation allowances and post-arrival health assessments, including referrals to hospitals in Addis Ababa.
“I was working as a house maid in Yemen for two and a half years. I was near a gas cylinder when an air raid took place last month. The cylinder exploded and I had to go to a hospital. I spent all of my savings on treatment there. With this money I will now be able to reach home and my two children,” said Hadra, 25, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday (24/5) evening and received a transportation allowance at the IOM transit centre.
“The situation there is very dire now. There are a lot of air raids, there is no power and even a bottle of water, which was sold for Rial 1,500, now costs Rial 5,000. Life is becoming very difficult,” she added.
Since the conflict broke out, some 3,177 Ethiopians have been evacuated from Yemen. Of these, some 2,889 were evacuated through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Another 250 were evacuated via Khartoum, Sudan and 38 via Djibouti.
IOM has been coordinating with the Ethiopian Government to provide post arrival assistance to Ethiopian returnees who fled the conflict in Yemen via Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since April.
It is asking donors for another USD 250,000 to continue to provide post arrival assistance for 2,500 additional Ethiopian returnees who are expected to arrive in Addis Ababa in the coming weeks.
In addition to post arrival assistance for Ethiopians, IOM has also assisted 1,215 third country nationals from over 39 countries to leave Yemen through nine flight rotations organized since 12 April: seven of those flights were organized from Sana’a to Khartoum, Sudan. One flight on 19 April flew from Sana’a to Addis Ababa. Another flight on 17 May flew from Sana’a to Mogadishu in Somalia.
In coordination with IOM Yemen, IOM Ethiopia and the relevant national authorities, IOM Djibouti is also preparing to transit 565 Ethiopian nationals currently stranded in Haradh, Yemen. The operation will include arranging travel documentation; sea transport from Hodeyda, Yemen to Obock, Djibouti; board, lodging and health screening at IOM’s Djibouti transit centre; and onward transportation to the Ethiopian border.
Relocation of 42,000 South Sudanese refugees 
Ethiopia - IOM has transported some 41,978 South Sudanese refugees from camps in Leitchour and Nip Nip to Jewi camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella province in just two weeks.
The operation, which involved 443 buses, 86 trucks, and a helicopter, moved 39,563 refugees from Leitchour and 2,226 from Nip Nip to Jewi. Some 189 vulnerable refugees unfit to travel by road made the journey in a helicopter provided by UNHCR. The largest convoy last week consisted of 71 buses and 10 trucks carrying some 4,526 refugees.
Since the conflict broke out in neighbouring South Sudan in December 2013, the total number of South Sudanese refugees IOM has relocated from Ethiopian border crossing points in Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz to camps on higher ground that are less prone to flooding has now reached 233,178.
The current camp-to-camp relocation which started on 8 May, followed months of planning and preparation by IOM, Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR.
Since the conflict broke out, the total number of South Sudanese refugees crossing into neighbouring countries has passed 551,636. Ethiopia has received the highest number of refugees with a total of over 208,177. With no sign of an end to the conflict in South Sudan, refugees continue to arrive.


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Monday, May 25, 2015

Update from Addis Ababa: Ethiopia elections

Suppressed at home, neglected abroad, Ethiopian migrants | openDemocracy

The May 24 election, contrary to US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s misjudged and widely criticized comments, is a hollow piece of democratic theatre.
Ethiopians in Italy protest killing of migrants in Saudi Arabia.Ethiopians in Italy protest killing of migrants in Saudi Arabia.Demotix/Stefano Montesi. All rights reserved.The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens from harm, at home and abroad – no matter who they are, or where they are. This is the primary moral and constitutional responsibility of the EPRDF government of Ethiopia, which, as with a vast array of such obligations, they fail to meet, or even acknowledge.
 In recent weeks a plethora of atrocities have befallen Ethiopians abroad: in Libya 30 Ethiopian Christians (whom we know of) were murdered (their beheadings shown on video) by Islamic jihadists, marching under a black flag of hate and violence; hundreds of others shiver in fear of being exposed to this. Earlier this month Ethiopians (together with other African migrants) living in South Africa were dragged through the streets by gangs: burnt alive, beaten, their homes and businesses destroyed, their children attacked. Thousands of Ethiopian men and women are trapped and frightened inside Yemen as that country descends into civil war; hundreds more are amongst the thousands of desperate men and women trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe from Libya. And in the Middle East and Gulf States (MENA), Ethiopian girls, working as domestic workers, are routinely mistreated by employers; many are sexually abused, most suffer psychological violence, all are trapped into domestic slavery.
To each and every one of those Ethiopians suffering upon foreign soil, the ruling regime has offered little or no support. Not content with suppressing the people at home, violating their basic human rights and denying them freedom and justice, the EPRDF government ignores their cries for help. Unlike other nation states (Malaya, Sri Lanka, the Phillipines, for example) they provide no consular support to the vulnerable young workers in the Gulf countries; have failed to organise any major airlifts for those hiding in Yemen, have done nothing to protect migrants in Durban and Johannesburg; and have taken no significant action, save prime ministerial platitudes, to safeguard Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
The government’s neglect is shameful but not surprising, and has enraged the people, who took to the streets of Addis Ababa recently in huge numbers in a powerful display of collective grief and anger. Their peaceful protest was met – again not surprisingly, given the governments intolerance of public assembly – by baton wielding security personnel, who beat men, women and girls indiscriminately and broke up the demonstrations. According to constitutionalprinciple demonstrations are allowed, but in practice they are all but outlawed, as are all types of free expression. The regime is paranoid, as all such totalitarian groups are.

Neither home nor country

The need for a quiet centre from where to face the world is common to us all. For many that haven of security is our country of birth, it comforts and reassures us, protecting us from the uncertainties and dangers of life. Home is where we feel safe, secure and loved. A wooden hut or a modernist mansion, home is the refuge we turn to in times of difficulty.
For the thousands of Ethiopian migrants abroad, they have neither home nor country. Abandoned by their government they are homeless, vulnerable and alone; they make easy prey for criminals: the traffickers and the gangs of rapists, kidnappers, jihadists and thugs who patrol the pathways along which the migrants walk.
To the untrained eye, the economy of Ethiopia appears to be developing, and the country gives the appearance of stability in a region of almost total instability. But this is a misleading image of development and hides deep-seated inequalities, endemic corruption, widespread bitterness and simmering fury towards the ruling party. Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world: it is ranked 173rd out of 187 countries in the UN human development index, and unprecedented numbers of its citizens are migrating in search of opportunity and freedom.
They travel north to Egypt and Libya – hoping to make it to Europe; south to Kenya and South Africa; east to Yemen, where some stay, others continue to try to crawl into Saudi Arabia. Many head to the other Gulf states, Lebanon, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates; countries with virtually no domestic labour laws, endemic racism and sexism, where naïve, uneducated young girls from rural Ethiopia enter into contracts (the Kafala system) with employers that trap them into domestic servitude, and, for many, sexual and psychological torture. Over two thirds make the journey out of the country illegally, entrusting their lives to human traffickers.  
They migrate for one of two reasons, economic or political, or should we say humanitarian, for it is the violations of their basic human rights that drive many from their homeland.
Many see no way to build a decent life for themselves and their families: others, particularly journalists and political activists see no hope of freedom from tyranny and are persecuted by the security forces for holding views that differ from the government. For them Libya, Yemen or the Mediterranean are no more dangerous than Ethiopia, Islamic state no greater a threat than the police or military, and so they too step onto the migrant road of uncertainty, in search of a new home in a more peaceful place; a place where there are economic opportunities, better education, and where democracy, justice and freedom exist. All of which, despite the duplicitous political rhetoric from the EPRDF government, are totally absent in Ethiopia.
The regime systematically violates fundamental human rights, silences all dissenting voices and rules the country in a suppressive violent fashion which is causing untold suffering to millions of people. The upcoming May election, contrary to US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s ignorant, misjudged and widely criticised comments (that “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair and credible and open and inclusive”), is a hollow piece of democratic theatre; a total sham, with no credibility whatsoever. The result, as everyone in the country and amongst the diaspora knows, is a forgone conclusion.
The government of Ethiopia neglects and suppresses the people at home, ignores and abandons them abroad. They are in violation of a plethora of international covenants, as well as their own constitution, but perhaps more fundamentally they are in violation of their primary moral duty: To care for and protect their citizens, wherever they face intimidation, violence and abuse.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Somalian Solution to the Perilous Exodus -

MOGADISHU, Somalia — We were sitting in a crammed cafe in the sweltering heat of a Mogadishu afternoon. The mishmash of conversation, clinking plates and loud horns from the street outside forced us to speak loudly across our plates of rice. A 22-year-old man I will call Liban, to protect his identity, sat across from me. Gangly and bursting with frenetic energy, he was telling me of his plans to cross the Mediterranean Sea to enter Italy illegally.
The topic came up casually during a conversation about a youth entrepreneurship summit I was organizing that week. He told me about a friend who introduced him to a fixer last year, who then connected him with a smuggler. He said his next step was to get together the last portion of the $4,000 that he would pay for his journey.

He pulled out a notebook and drew me a map. The plan was straightforward: He would cross the Ethiopia-Somalia border and meet with smugglers in Ethiopia. They would take him across the porous Ethiopian border with Sudan and on to Khartoum. From there, he would begin his journey into Libya. In Tripoli, he would board a boat and cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Sweden was his final destination. His cousin lived in Stockholm and promised to house him and help him find a job. He circled Sweden emphatically.
When I looked down, I couldn’t help but notice the crammed scribbles of quadratic equations on the opposite page. He was in his final year at university, hoping to become an engineer.

Two years later, I’m not sure where Liban is. I know he finished his degree in mathematics and is no longer in Somalia’s capital. But whenever I read about the horrific capsizing of boats loaded with hundreds of migrants off the coast of Italy, I think of our lunch that day.
I can’t help seeing an image of him in a rickety boat out at sea, crammed in with hundreds of others like cattle, sweltering under an unforgiving sun. I imagine him gaunt from dehydration, perhaps witnessing his fellow passengers turning on one another, or worst of all, surrounded by screaming, struggling migrants as their boat founders.
People often ask me what drives young men like Liban to take a journey that might very well lead to death. Are the privations of the journey, the abuse of traffickers and the risk of drowning worth the distant hope of finding a job as a janitor in Stockholm or picking tomatoes in southern Italy? Why would a young man, a university graduate, chance everything?
There is a Somali proverb that comes to mind: Poverty is slavery.
In Somalia, there is a population bulge of youths who live in a perpetual limbo of hopelessness, never moving forward, waiting for opportunities that never arrive, for a chance to give meaning to their lives. Like many of them, Liban did not face persecution or danger, just a life without purpose or hope. That is why he and thousands of others have risked their lives each year, and will continue to do so despite the recent headlines about hundreds of migrants drowned.
The European Union seems to be in disarray when it comes to dealing with the issue. Some Italian officials have called for stopping boats before they depart Libya, or forcing them to return before they land on Italian shores. Instead of addressing what is pushing these migrants in the first place, Europe’s response has been to increase the militarization of its maritime borders. The deaths of thousands of migrants, who are taking more perilous routes to avoid capture, have been the predictable result.
Addressing the root causes of unauthorized migration is one solution. While some fled civil war, many more of those who have died were simply seeking a better life. About two-thirds of Somali youths want to leave the country because they are unable to find work; in south-central Somalia, which includes the capital, the figure is as high as 87 percent. It is important to identify the communities at highest risk of choosing illegal migration and provide them the livelihoods they so desperately seek.
One successful model has been to train and support young people in starting their own businesses. Several organizations that promote entrepreneurship now exist in Somalia, providing young people with a way to earn an income. They include Shaqodoon, a Somali youth-led organization, and Silatech, which aims to support youth entrepreneurs in the Arab world. Silatech has partnered with money transfer businesses in Somalia to help finance youth start-ups.
On a Pan-African level, the Nigeria-based Tony Elumelu Foundation started a $100 million initiative this year to train and finance an eventual target of 10,000 start-ups across the continent. Of course, youth entrepreneurship initiatives are not an all-encompassing solution, but they can help reduce the number of people who risk their lives crossing the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean in search of work.
In 2013, the European Union pledged 650 million euros ($725 million) to Somalia as part of $2.4 billion in reconstruction aid from international donors. More of this money should be used to enable Somalis to earn a living at home.
As long as Somalia’s thousands of young people are stifled by poverty and condemned to hopeless, endless waiting, they will continue to risk their lives seeking better opportunities on the other side of the Mediterranean.
Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali, a 2013 New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute, is the founder of the Iftiin Foundation, an organization fostering social entrepreneurship in Somalia

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Germany suggests asylum centers in North Africa | Germany | DW.DE

The number of asylum seekers in Germany is rising dramatically as thousands of refugees continue to make the perilous sea voyage from Africa to Europe. Germany has proposed setting up asylum centers in North Africa.

refugees in overcrowded boat
In view of the recurring refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has suggested setting up asylum centers in North Africa.
"In the long run, that solution would make sense," he told the daily Die Welt in an interview Thursday. He suggested creating an option in the North African countries for people to "come to Europe legally," which would at the same time put an end to the illegal transit to the continent. He added it might make sense to start with a pilot project of just one such center, adding that asylum applications could then be vetted and decided on the spot at in North Africa.
It's certainly not a new idea, says Germany's Pro Asyl refugee organization: it's been floated from time to time over the past ten years.
De Maiziere and his European colleagues are basically admitting that there is no legal entry into Europe, said Pro Asyl expert Karl Kopp, noting that would-be refugees are forced to choose a costly and dangerous route.
Migrants at sea
Over the past years, thousands of people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, hoping to reach safety and a new life in Europe.

Migrants flood onto Lampedusa

Smugglers and human traffickers demand exorbitant sums for the journey, and they often squeeze refugees into boats that are far from seaworthy.
Earlier this month, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) sounded the alarm, saying it was shocked at the scale of the most recent tragedy in the Mediterranean, where some 300 refugees were confirmed missing from four dinghies that made it to the Italian coast.
"This is a stark reminder that more lives could be lost if those seeking safety are left at the mercy of the sea," Vincent Cochetel, the director of the UNHCR Europe Bureau, said in a press release. "Saving lives should be our top priority - Europe cannot afford to do too little too late."
Strip smugglers of their source of income
According to the UN agency, at least 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean in 2014, a trend the UNHCR expects to continue this year.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier & Paolo Gentiloni in Rom 28.11.2014
The German and Italian foreign ministers back the so-called Khartoum Process
While the German interior minister's most recent proposal isn't yet on the drawing board, a concerted effort to counter trafficking and smuggling of migrants between North Africa and Europe was made in November 2014.
The EU, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, the European and African Union Commissioners in charge of migration and the EU High Representative launched an initiative refered to as the Khartoum Process. The aim is to assist participating countries in setting up and running reception centers, and cooperate on identifying and prosecuting criminal networks. Under the plan, refugees fleeing war and persecution would travel on to Europe, while economic migrants would be turned back.
Emergency shelters in school gyms, hotels
Meanwhile, the flood of refugees continues unabated, and cities and towns across Germany are increasingly finding it difficult to house asylum-seekers. Cologne in western Germany, for instance, is currently caring for a record of more than 5,500 refugees and is frantically seeking more housing for the hundreds of newcomers expected to arrive each month this year. Not surprisingly, Gerd Landsberg, chief executive of the Association of German Cities, also favors setting up asylum centers in the refugees' countries of origin.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Young African Migrants Caught in Trafficking Machine -


Efrem Fitwi, left; Hermon Angosom, center; and Filimon Burust at a detention center in Zawiyah, Libya, last month.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

ZAWIYAH, Libya — The no-money-down offer was too tempting for the children to resist.
Smugglers had offered the boys and girls transportation out of the refugee camps along the Eritrean border, across the African deserts and the Mediterranean Sea, to a new life in Europe. There, they could quickly win asylum and bring along their parents, the smugglers assured them. Payment could come later.
By the time the smugglers had conveyed the boys and girls to Libya, however, the offer had become an ultimatum. The children, some as young as 8, called their parents to relay a demand from the smugglers for more than $3,200. For parents, failure to send the money meant abandoning their sons and daughters to the chaos of Libya.
Zackarias Hilo, 19, the oldest of about 40 Eritrean boys held by the authorities here at the time of a recent visit, said his father had initially exclaimed that he was too poor to pay. “Then I am dead!” Zackarias replied.

So to come up with the payment, “my father went to the old city to sell all his goats,” Zackarias said.


Migrants at a detention center in Tripoli, Libya, last month. Roughly 170,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea from Libya last year. CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

“It was the same for all of us,” he said, surveying the younger boys. Adult refugees who traveled with them confirmed their accounts, which aid workers said were common. In the case of one 8-year-old, a father inEritrea and a sister in Norway provided corroboration as well.
There are about 80 Eritrean boys and girls now imprisoned in two detention centers here. Ill prepared to evaluate the smugglers’ offers, such children are among the most innocent victims of the human smuggling machine that is now sucking so many African migrants into the Libyan maelstrom and out onto the Mediterranean waters.
Out of roughly 170,000 migrants arriving in Italy by sea from Libya last year, more than 13,000 were children traveling alone, and 3,394 of those were Eritrean, according to the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency based in Geneva. In just the first few weeks of this year’s peak sailing season, about 30,000 have crossed, including more than 5,000 so far this month and a total of more than 1,680 unaccompanied minors.
More than 50 children, including some traveling with their parents, are believed to have drowned along with 700 others when their overloaded boat capsized in April. On Tuesday, aid groups said that as many as 40 other migrants had drowned as well, and last year, hundreds of children died the same way.
The families being extorted by the smugglers are invariably already impoverished. In Eritrea, the average per capita income is about $550 a year, according to the most recent World Bank figures, so meeting the smugglers’ ransom can consume the savings of a whole village or more.
“The smugglers are very creative,” said Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean rights activist in Stockholm who works with migrants. “Once the smuggler gets the children to Libya, the parents have no option but to send money, because there is no return.”
If the children reach Europe, she said, “the first thing they ask me is always, ‘Can I bring my parents?’ ”
The unaccompanied children come from many countries, including 1,481 from Somalia, 1,208 from Gambia and 945 from Syria last year, according to the International Organization for Migration. In some cases, parents may consciously send children in the hope that they will be more likely to win asylum.
But the largest number of unaccompanied children come from Eritrea, a dictatorship so severe it is sometimes likened to North Korea. Western countries grant asylum to almost every arriving Eritrean. And the Eritrean children, aid workers say, often slip away without the knowledge of their parents.
Eritrea drafts every man and woman as young as 18 into a brutal system of military service that frequently lasts many years and can amount to slave labor at state-run industrial projects. To escape, hundreds of thousands of adults have fled, often to refugee camps across the hilly border with Ethiopia. Each year, hundreds of unaccompanied children following the same footsteps walk into Ethiopia. The camps currently house more than 1,500 without their parents, aid workers say.
“They are referred to as ‘orphans’ inside the camps,” said John Stauffer, founder of the America Team for Displaced Eritreans, a nonprofit group.
Efrem Fitwi and Hermon Angosom, 8-year-olds at the detention center here, appeared in an earlier New York Times article about migrants in Libya. “I saw what happened to my brothers; I saw my future,” Efrem said when asked at more length about his journey.

Continue reading the main story


What’s Behind the Surge in Refugees Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

There were about 17 times as many refugee deaths from January to April this year as there were during the same period last year.

“We don’t have any education,” he said, squatting on the dirt courtyard of the detention center and speaking Tigrinya, a language native to Eritrea and Ethiopia, while Zackarias translated. “My brothers and sisters don’t have any school. So we want to go to Ethiopia.”
Most children who make the trek without telling their parents regret it as soon as they arrive, aid workers say. But Eritrea considers them defectors and criminals, barring any return. “They get stuck there in the camps,” Ms. Estefanos said. “It is very common.”
The camps are also where the smugglers trawl for passengers. Efrem and other Eritrean boys in the Libyan detention center said their smuggler was Ermias Ghermay, an Ethiopian who is wanted by the Italian police for the drowning of 366 migrants off the coast of Lampedusa in 2013.
His name resurfaced recently in Italian news reports about a police recording of a telephone call in which smugglers discussed where to invest their millions in profits.
“They say I let too many people board the boats,” Mered Medhanie, a 34-year-old Eritrean smuggler nicknamed The General, reportedly said. “But they’re the ones who want to leave right away.”
From the refugee camps in Ethiopia near the Eritrean border, Mr. Ghermay’s crew packed the children in the back of a truck with a dozen other migrants to drive west to Sudan and then north to Libya, children and adult passengers said. Hermon and several other boys and girls said it was in Sudan that they first called their families.
Hermon called his older sister, Haben, 22. She had recently traveled a similar route across the Mediterranean and had finally reached Norway, where she applied for asylum, she said in a telephone interview.
Having experienced the journey’s perils, she pleaded with Hermon to turn back or stay in Sudan — anything but continue to Libya — and she initially persuaded him, both said.
But after they hung up, Hermon felt afraid to stay alone in Sudan and unsure how to go back, he said in an interview in the detention center.
“We don’t have friends in Sudan, we don’t have family there, and I am small and I am scared,” Hermon said. “I missed my mother and my father, so I wanted to get to the outside.” He allowed the smugglers to carry him on despite his sister’s warnings.
The smugglers held Hermon captive in a squalid “collection house” somewhere in western Libya — neither the boys nor the adults who traveled with them knew where — until his sister in Norway could send enough money, about $1,600 for the ride to Libya and another $1,600 or $1,800 for the boat ride into the Mediterranean. He waited four weeks while she begged for money from family and friends.
Finally, in the dark of night, the smugglers put Hermon and Efrem in an inflatable dinghy to carry them out to a fishing boat packed with more than 200 others. The engine failed almost immediately, so they were pulled back to shore and arrested.


Unaccompanied children are among the most innocent victims of the human trafficking machine that is now sucking so many African migrants into the Libyan maelstrom and out onto the Mediterranean waters. CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Now, at the Libyan detention centers, the boys and girls spend most of their time caged in concrete bunkers — the boys on thin pads on the floor, the girls on rows of beds that fill the floor space. The food is little more than rice and macaroni.
There are few opportunities for recreation and no chance of education. The United Nations refugee agency has largely withdrawn from Libya because of the escalating violence. So have most other international aid groups.
Each of the centers held more than 400 adults as well as about 40 children, many apparently younger than puberty.
None of the boys and girls knew where they were or how they might get out. Many of the children speak only limited Arabic in an Eritrean dialect, and none of the guards speak Tigrinya.
Hermon was stoic at first. Then a visiting journalist said he had reached Hermon’s father in Eritrea, who was glad to hear news of his son. At that, Hermon hid his face to weep, uncontrollably.
Later, Hermon was given a phone by a visiting journalist and allowed to call his mother. But his guards insisted they stay in the room, and then mocked him for crying.
“There he goes, crying and fussing to his mama, but his parents are the ones who sent him,” a jailer said, accusing him of fabricating stories of mistreatment.
Had he told his parent he was well treated, another asked, threateningly. “I told them I am in Libya,” Hermon said in Arabic. “I told them I am in prison.”
Another boy of about 8, Filimon Burust, was allowed to speak by phone to Ms. Estefanos, the rights activist. He alternated between childlike terror and adult suspicion, she said.
“I am not going to tell you where my father is,” he told Ms. Estefanos, warily. “Just tell my mother to tell my father where I am — she knows where he is.”
Hermon’s sister, Haben, had lied to her parents, assuring them that Hermon was safely on his way, but her lie was exposed when Ms. Estefanos reached his father.
In reality, Haben said she had previously spoken only with the smuggler, Mr. Ghermay. He demanded another $600 for a bribe to secure Hermon’s release from detention, then put him back on another dangerous boat.
Is my sister doing anything to help me, Hermon asked in a phone call with Ms. Estefanos. Was the price of his release in American dollars or Libyan dinars?
“You just concentrate on taking care of yourself,” Ms. Estefanos said she told him.