Migration Media Award: First Place Print Category, Arabic
Author: Ahmed Hassan Shalaby
Media: Almasri Alyoum, EGYPT
Date of Publication: 26/6/2016
Title: Children’s Bodies: “Visa” for Crossing to the European Heaven
Short summary: After a boat sinking incident, March 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea, in one of the illegal migration trips from Egypt to Europe, 8 papers posted at the entrance of the morgue of a public hospital in Alexandria held my attention.
The papers listed the names of the recovered bodies from the sea, there were about 180 names. Along with every name written, the age was mentioned, it was clear that 50% of the bodies were children, and 20% were women. Here I decided to look further into the mystery of these numbers as it is generally known here in Egypt that young men or fathers are the ones trying to migrate across the sea. I went to the houses of the victims and their families, there I discovered a new phenomenon or a new trick used by parents to get to Europe. Their relatives or their neighbors who have reached Europe before them generally give them this advice: “Take your children and wife with you, get rid of any papers or documents which may reveal your identity before you reach the beach, pretend you are Syrian, you will be placed in shelter homes instead of being deported which is the case if you tell them that you are an Egyptian”
During the investigation we discovered that there are Egyptian families hosting in their homes Syrian families who came to Egypt in order to learn the Syrian dialect and some Syrian expressions and then they accompany them to Europe and pay for their boat fees in return for them testifying that the families are both Syrian when they reach shores. More importantly, the tragic stories told by parents who survived while they lost a son or a daughter or more. A father speaks, knowing and confessing that he has used his newborn son or daughter to reach Europe and in the end the father remains alone after losing his children and wife.
عبر سنوات طويلة كانت ظاهرة الهجرة غير الشرعية للمصريين أبطالها من الشباب، لأسباب كثيرة أهمها البطالة، لم يكن أحد- مسؤول أو غير مسؤول- لديه القوة ليواجه شبابا يلقون بأنفسهم فى قوارب متهالكة، بعضهم يكتب له القدر الوصول إلى البر الآخر، وكثير منهم يبتلعهم