African migrants at Catholic center in Spain tell of harrowing journeys

World Today

Italy said it will allow some migrants waiting on a ship to disembark in Sicily. This comes after Germany, France, and Malta also said that they would take some. Spain’s southern port city of Cadiz, a migrant center, has already been filled to capacity but the men there say they have few regrets about making the journey in search of a better life. CGTN’s Al Goodman has more. 

Follow Al Goodman on Twitter @algoodmanspain

The men at this migrant center, run by Roman Catholic charities, in southern Spain like to watch football news. It may help them forget, albeit for awhile, their arduous journeys from sub-Saharan African to Spain. They tell stories about months of travel, from one country to another, to try to reach Europe. 

Amaduwurie Jalloh, a migrant from Sierra Leone, said he left after his mother died. However, Jalloh was captured by bandits in Mali while trying to get to Europe. He managed to escape after a month in captivity and finally left Morocco with others in a rowboat but soon found himself in sinking at sea.

“We are swimming, no way to survival,” Jalloh said. “The Red Cross came and save our life.”

The migrant center is in the southern port of Cadiz, where Spain approved its first democratic constitution two centuries ago, but with thousands of Africans arriving on Europe’s coasts, the continent’s democracies are bickering over whether to accept them.

All the men have hard stories about coming a to Europe, but they may be among the lucky ones as most of them have friends who have died on the journey.

Tastia Akafack Martial, a migrant from Cameroon, and his friend both fell while scaling fence that separated northern Morocco from the Spanish city of Ceuta, but only Martial survived.

“To search for a better life you sometimes have to suffer.” Martial said. “That’s how life is. We are responsible for our destiny.”

 Jerome Abdoumi Guessant, a migrant from Ivory Coast, was injured in a sea crossing. A propeller cut his leg while he was getting back into his boat.

“I was pushing a woman who had fallen into the water back into the boat.” Guessant said. “She made it okay, but the propeller cut me twice.”

Many say they want to go to France and northern Europe for any available job, but Europe is not sure if the surge of migrants is best for the continent.