Foka Fotsi, who has been trafficked twice, told Reuters that those in charge of one of his places of detention included Ghanaians and Nigerians. The story of Fotsi corroborated another testimony of a Nigerian in Edo State, southern Nigeria, who identified a certain Charles, a Nigerian who he believes is the main cause of trafficking.
Unable to find work to support his family, Fotsi decided to leave Cameroon last year, but fell into the hands of a Libyan kidnapping network before reaching Europe.
“There was torture like I never saw. They hit you with wooden bats, with iron bars , “he said, removing the hood from his sweatshirt and showing the red wounds still raw on his skull.
” They hang us from the ceiling by our arms and legs and then throw us on the floor. They swing us and throw us against the wall, again and again, ten times at least. ” “They are not human beings. It is the devil personified.
Christelle Timdi, another Cameroonian told her horrible experience in this North African country.
When uniformed men boarded the overcrowded rubber boat carrying her, she and her boyfriend were en route to a new life in Europe. She thought that the Italian coastguard had come to save them.
But the men took out weapons and started firing. “Many people have fallen into the sea,” said the 32-year-old Cameroonian, who said she saw her boyfriend, Douglas, fall into the water and disappear in the darkness.
The gunmen brought Timdi and his traveling companions back to Libya where they were locked up, raped, beaten and forced to make calls to their families at home to obtain ransoms in order to guarantee their freedom.
Timdi, who returned to Cameroon last week, told his story while a video on the sale of migrants in Libya broadcast by CNN, was an outcry.
The Libyan government, backed by the United States, said it was investigating and promised to bring those responsible to justice
Timdi reveals that she had not seen the images broadcast by CNN, but had witnessed the human trade in Libya.
” I saw it with my own eyes,” she said, describing how she had seen a Senegalese buy an African migrant.
Libya is the main starting point for migrants attempting to reach Europe by boat.
Timdi said that many traffickers presented themselves as coast guards, policemen and taxi drivers to trap the victims.
There were about 130 other migrants on his boat when the gunmen opened fire in the middle of the night, Timdi said.
After being brought back to Libya, they were locked in an abandoned factory building where men were taking and raping girls and women – and sometimes even men.
” We tried to hide the young girls from here,” said Timdi, describing the terrifying moments when the guards roamed the room with torches, searching for their next victims.
“I was pregnant – that’s why I was not raped. And everything is done in front of others – they say it’s so you know what will happen to you if you do not pay. ”
Timdi said the facilities used by the traffickers appeared to be well organized and monitored, adding that most of the people inside wore fake police or military uniforms.
“The place was surrounded by military vehicles with rifles ready to shoot, so we did not dare to try to escape. “
Timdi’s family paid 1 million CFA francs ($ 1,800), collected with difficulty from relatives and friends, to free her. But she said ransoms were not a guarantee of security.
Traffickers are working with a network of taxi drivers who are supposed to transfer freed migrants to migrant camps – but often re-chain them, Timdi said.
” If they send you a good taxi, you will arrive at your destination, but if it’s a bad cab, the driver will sell you to someone else,” she said.
“There are people who have been sold twice, three times. And when you call your family to tell them that you have been resold once again, no one will believe you, they will not send more money to free you. “
Timdi was released by his captors in October and gave birth to a baby girl, Brittanie, in a Libyan hospital a few days later.
Timdi and Fotsi were among the 250 Cameroonians who were repatriated last week by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of a voluntary return program for migrants stranded in Libya.
The program, funded by the European Union, provided returnees with clothing and medical checks. The most vulnerable, including pregnant women, also received about 400 euros.
Boubacar Saybou, director of IOM in Cameroon, said he was launching a program to help migrants start businesses and would also provide seed money.
“We need to create opportunities for them here. This is important, ” he said.
Fotsi said he hoped to follow the project. But for now his most pressing problem was finding a place to sleep.
“I pray that God will give me a job that I can do here,” he said.