Migrant boys tell of attacks, murder in Libyan 'hell'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
24 PHOTOS
Migrant boys in Italy tell of 'hell' in Libya
See Gallery
Migrant boys tell of attacks, murder in Libyan 'hell'
Ebrima Sanneh, 17, from Gambia exits a room at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Sanneh arrived in Italy this year by boat from Libya. "They rob you and take your money, or if they see you have no money on you, they kill you," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant sits on his bed at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ebrima Sanneh, 17, from Gambia uses a laptop at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Sanneh arrived in Italy this year by boat from Libya. "They rob you and take your money, or if they see you have no money on you, they kill you," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant collects laundry at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A wardrobe is seen at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant washes his face at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Migrants study at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria poses for a photograph in his room at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant studies at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A placard that reads: "All men are equal, it is the same life told in a thousand different ways", is seen at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Migrants are seen in their room at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant takes a picture of another migrant with his smart phone at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant prays in his room at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria touches his head at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria shows a wound on his leg at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Ebrima Sanneh, 17, from Gambia uses a laptop at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Sanneh arrived in Italy this year by boat from Libya. "They rob you and take your money, or if they see you have no money on you, they kill you," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Ebrima Sanneh, 17, from Gambia walks to an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Sanneh arrived in Italy this year by boat from Libya. "They rob you and take your money, or if they see you have no money on you, they kill you," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria is seen at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 22, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria sits in the courtyard at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon (L), 17, from Nigeria sits in the courtyard, as others play soccer, at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES?
Migrants spend time on a balcony at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A migrant plays with a ball at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Augustine Okukpon, 17, from Nigeria is reflected in the sunglasses of a friend at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. Okukpon arrived in Italy from Libya. He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea. "In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he said. REUTERS/Tony Gentile SEARCH "TONI CHILD" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

CALTAGIRONE, Italy, June 10 (Reuters) - Street gangs in Tripoli, known as Asma Boys, attacked him with shards of broken glass, slicing his leg and his face, 17-year-old Augustine Okukpon from Nigeria said at a shelter in Sicily.

Okukpon is just one of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have flooded into Italy, many with horror stories about their time in Libya, where people smugglers, militias and Islamic State militants operate with impunity in the chaos of civil war.

He says that his five months stranded there was a nightmare. He was repeatedly attacked and chased by the street gangs and was relieved to climb onto a rubber boat and set off for Europe even if it meant risking his life at sea.

"In Libya there are all those Asma Boys, street boys. They said they don't need any blacks in Libya," he told Reuters at an old villa turned into a shelter for migrant boys in the medieval hilltop town of Caltagirone.

As of May 29, more than 6,000 unaccompanied minors have reached Italy's shores, about three times more than in the same period last year, according to Save the Children.

"People who get on the boats are fleeing an out-of-control situation in Libya that has just been getting worse and worse over the past two years," said Save the Children spokeswoman, Giovanna Di Benedetto, who documents their stories in Sicily.

"Some of them call it hell, and they say they have seen their loved ones exposed to all kinds of violence and even murder," she said.

Libyan forces edge closer to IS stronghold

The United Nations says migrants passing through Libya are often subjected to exploitation and physical abuse, including being held in appalling conditions in detention centers.

Gambian teenager Ebrima Sanneh said the Asma Boys were responsible for shooting dead his Senegalese uncle, who was in his 20s, and wounding his Libyan employer, Mohammed, in the arm.

Sanneh, like Okukpon, arrived in Italy this year by boat from Libya.

"They rob you and take your money, or if they see you have no money on you, they kill you," he said.

Sanneh's employer survived but his arm was amputated. As the man recovered in the hospital, he arranged for Sanneh to take a boat to Italy.

He tried to give Sanneh the 2,500 Libyan dinar ($1,800) he had earned with his uncle in construction work, but Sanneh said he refused.

"He was ready to give me the money. I told him no because he was badly hurt. I told him I'm taking a risk. Maybe if I die at sea, the money sinks."

Read Full Story

People are Reading