By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC
It’s only 11 o’clock in the morning and Moussa Koulibaly is already sipping his sixth cup of Senegalese attaya-tea mixed with sugar and mint.
Moussa Koulibaly, 25, is a migrant from Côte d’Ivoire and lives in a “ghetto” (a generic name given to a group of houses rented by migrants) in Agadez, in northern Niger. There, he shares two rooms with more than 20 other young Africans coming from all parts of the continent: Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Sudan, Nigeria, DRC, CAR, Senegal, Chad.
They live in very precarious conditions without adequate food, running water and electricity. “Sometimes there are more than 30 people in the house. It’s like little Africa,” Koulibaly says.
The only utensils the young men own are a few mats on the floor, some plates and a teapot. The big dream they all share has brought them closer together.
They wish to reach Europe.
Thousands of migrants have passed through Agadez on their risky journeys towards Europe. Because of increased security measures, following the implementation of a law criminalizing transport of migrants in 2016, Koulibaly and his roommates are now stranded in Agadez.
Trapped, they gather every day to make attaya and to play chequerboard, hoping to proceed with their trips. Meanwhile, they talk about politics, corruption, unemployment and Europe. One can clearly see suffering in their eyes and hear profound anger and resentment in their voices.
“We drink tea to keep ourselves busy, to kill time. We have nothing else to do,” says Koulibaly.
He left his home country, Côte d’Ivoire, in 2015. After a few months in Agadez, he managed to reach Libya where he was abducted by local militias. He was released only after having paid a ransom.
Crossing the desert was extremely difficult. “We didn’t have anything. No food, no water. Some people succumbed”.
Now back in Agadez, Moussa does not plan to return home to Côte d’Ivoire. He wants to attempt again, like thousands of others trapped in Agadez like him.
“My mother had to sell the land she owned to finance my journey. If I fail, my mother will have sacrificed everything in vain,” says Koulibaly. “I am not afraid of dying, as long as I can die in my sleep,” he adds poignantly.