Hagos, a young man with a contagious smile diligently cleans the floor at the children’s ward in Mater Dei hospital while he waves joyfully to Maria, a young Maltese patient in a wheelchair. But Hagos’ warm smile does not reveal the painful experiences he went through leaving behind his home and family in Eritrea.
Hagos arrived in Malta in 2006. He recounts: “I used to study social science, history and geography when I was in Eritrea”. Yet, Eritrea remains unsafe for many men and women who aspire for freedom. After a war between Eritrea and Ethiopia which lasted from 1998 till 2000, the two countries are still violently engaged in an unresolved border dispute. Moreover, the current regime controls the domestic society tightly and many young Eritreans try to flee the dictatorship and its forced army recruitments.
Hagos is one of those who left Eritrea to take the risk of crossing the desert, enduring tough conditions in Libya and surviving the Mediterranean Sea in order to reach safety.
“The climate in the desert is horrible. I saw dead bodies near oases, many graves and scattered skeletons,” he remembers. In Libya Hagos experienced the dreadful methods of Gaddafi’s regime. “No one can protect you. The police can catch you and ask for money,” Hagos mentions. “If you don’t give them what they want, they can stab you or kick you”.
Hagos survived the desert, the brutality in Libya and the unsafe boat trip to Europe. He is now living and working in Malta. Nevertheless, life in a new reality also has a price: “I haven’t seen my family during the past nine years” Hagos says. Yet, his smile reveals that he remains optimistic about seeing them again one day.
The UNHCR office in Malta worked with a local production company to develop five Public Service Announcements (PSA) TV spots to raise awareness about how protection status is changing the lives of individuals who found safety in Malta. Read more.
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