22-year-old lady survives 10 days in Sahara Desert, narrates ordeal

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A 22-year-old Nigerian woman attempting to migrate to Europe via the Sahara Desert managed to survive for 10 days after her traffickers abandoned her to die.

The International Organisation for Migration said the woman, with the nickname Adaora, was the only female among the survivors of a rescue mission on May 28.

“She left Nigeria in early April, hoping for better future in Europe. There were 50 migrants on the pick-up van when it left Agadez for Libya, but only six are still alive today,” the Niger Chief of Mission for IOM, Giuseppe Loprete, said.

Recounting her ordeal, Adaora said: “We were in the desert for 10 days. After five days, the driver abandoned us.

“He left with all of our belongings, saying he was going to pick us up in a couple of hours, but he never did,” she recalled.

During the next two days, 44 of the migrants died, a situation that persuaded the six survivors to start walking to look for help.

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“We had to drink our own pee to survive,” said the woman, now in an IOM camp in Niamey, Niger Republic.

She had left Nigeria with two close female friends, who both died in the desert.

“They were too weak to keep going,” she recalls, sadly. “We buried a few, but there were just too many to be buried and we didn’t have the strength to do it,” Adaora adds.

“I couldn’t walk anymore. I wanted to give up,” she recalls.

Two other migrants carried her until a truck driver picked them up and took them to local authorities who then alerted IOM staff in Dirkou in the Agadez Region of north-eastern Niger.

By the time the six survivors reached IOM’s transit centre in Dirkou, Adaora was unconscious.

She received medical assistance, and when she recovered, she gave a detailed account of her experience to both the authorities and IOM staff.

Two of the other migrants from the group went back with IOM staff and the authorities to find the bodies and identify the victims.

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After receiving medical assistance at IOM’s transit centres in both Dirkou and Agadez, Adaora is currently recovering at IOM’s transit centre for migrants in Niamey, awaiting her imminent voluntary return to Nigeria.

Adaora says she had no idea what the route was going to be like, otherwise she would have never left Nigeria.

She says upon returning to Nigeria, she wants to continue her work as a nurse.

The IOM said it rescued no fewer than 600 people since April 2017 through a new search-and-rescue operation that targets migrants stranded in the Sahara Desert.

The UN migration agency, however, regretted that 52 migrants, mostly from The Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, died over the period, according to its statement on Tuesday.

“We are enhancing our capacity to assist vulnerable migrants stranded in Northern Agadez, towards the Niger-Libya border. Saving lives in the desert is becoming more urgent than ever,” IOM says.

NAN


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