IFRC


Surviving a dangerous journey to safety

Published: 19 August 2016 15:27 CET

Caroline Haga/IFRC

Hasan Al-Baba, 27, is a survivor. Having survived war, imprisonment and violence in Syria, he managed to save himself and his family as their boat capsized in the middle of the Mediterranean on their way to Europe.

“I spent most of my life in Dubai, and when I returned to Syria I was persecuted, imprisoned and beaten. Even my wife was threatened while she was staying with her family. For us there was no choice but to flee as soon as we could,” says Hasan.

To reach Libya, where they embarked on the most dangerous part of their journey, Hasan, his pregnant wife Aisha, their daughter Osaida, who is five-years-old, and baby son Sika travelled through Dubai and Sudan. Hasan remembers the day they finally arrived – exactly two weeks before they were rescued; it was his birthday.

“When I saw the boat we were supposed to board I refused to get on. But they told me that they would put a bullet in my head if we didn’t get on it. In the end, they filled the boat with 25-30 people, including seven or eight Syrian families.”

“Follow a star”

Hasan says that the pilot of the boat was not experienced and that the only advice they were given was to aim towards a particular star in the sky. Due to the rough seas that night, the boat began filling up with water and within four hours had capsized.

“We were all thrown into the water. I was holding the children above water Aisha was trying to stay afloat. She was terrified, but I told her that she would never die before I did.”

Despite the danger, the family was lucky. “I don’t know how long we were in the water before we managed to get the attention of a fisherman, who saved us and took us to one of the search and rescue vessels,” Hasan says.

Of almost 30 people on the boat, five died and one more remains missing. All of Hasan’s family survived.

“Three Syrian men on-board our boat lost their families. They all lost their wives, one man lost both a son and a daughter, and the other a daughter,” he says.

Hasan and his family are now safely on-board the rescue ship Responder which patrols the Central Mediterranean and will take them to Sicily along with 300 other people rescued on the same day. The family now hopes to find safety in Europe and Hasan – a boxer for 15 years – wishes that his children will be able to experience the pleasure and benefit of sport. Maybe his son will one day even, fulfil his father’s ambitions and become a professional football player for Bayern-Munich.




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