“Out of a total of 50, only eight of us managed to cross the border”
“I left my country, Ivory Coast, at the end of the civil war in 2011. My parents were killed during the conflict. To stay alive, I had no choice but to leave. My brothers and sisters did the same as me, but we were separated in the panic. I have had no news from them since. Before arriving in Melilla, I went through several countries: Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and finally, Morocco. My journey lasted more than two years.In Morocco, I spent eight months living around Nador in a camp with other immigrants. Several groups formed and sometimes, one of them will decide it’s ‘the big night’: that means it’s time to try to cross the border. In general, the departing group is helped by a separate group, which leaves a little earlier to try and divert the border guards’ attention. Even though this technique doesn’t always work, at least it gives those leaving a small chance.I was part of a group of 50 people. Only eight of us managed to get over the three fences. I was left with cuts to my arms and knees, but it was nothing compared to the emotion I felt at the time. I told myself: ‘That’s it, you’re in Europe, nothing can happen to you now, all your troubles are behind you.’“If I have to go back to Ivory Coast, I’ll go crazy. I have no family there, no future.”I know full well that I have taken huge risks, but I am prepared to sacrifice my life to cross the border, even though I was very scared at the time. My ‘brothers’ and I all have the same reasoning: It’s Europe or death. Even if we fail to cross the first time around, we’ll try a second time, a third time… until we succeed. If I have to go back to Ivory Coast, I’ll go crazy. I have no family there, no future. I would prefer to die on a fence with my head held high. At least I would have tried everything, and would have no regrets.Migrants at the Melilla camp. Photo posted to Facebook by José Palazon.In Melilla, I spend my day doing odd jobs, like cleaning the residents’ cars. I can earn up to eight euros a day, allowing me to buy a mobile phone and a rechargeable SIM card. The ‘seniors’, the migrants who’ve been at the camp longer than me, also help me financially. In a way, they fulfill the role of ‘elders’.My eventual goal is to find work and start a family in Belgium, the Netherland or Germany. There are a lot of Africans in France and I know their situation there is very difficult. Today, I just hope to live like a European in peace.I have lived at the welcome centre in Melilla for three months now. There are many of us inside, but that doesn’t bother me. I have lived in worse conditions before. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait, but I know the names of those who obtain the’ golden ticket’ will be written on a board. My turn will surely come [Amnesty International says the wait can take several years].