Migrants Narrate Near-Death Experiences
T.B. Joshua’s Church Provides Assistance and Advice
A long line of deportees from Libya gather at The SCOAN where they receive financial and psychological support.
As the world grapples to handle Europe’s worst migrant crisis, over 3,500 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2016.
While headlines report on the statistics of migrants who sentence themselves to death in search of better economic opportunities in Europe, the personal and distressing narratives of those who make these journeys often remain untold.
The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), a Lagos based church, has found itself continuously coming to the aid of deportees, who, after making these regrettable journeys, visit the church in need of financial and psychological support.
On Sunday 16th October 2016, a group of Nigerian deportees from Libya revealed appalling details of inhumane circumstances they encountered on their journeys to enter Europe through North Africa and across the Mediterranean.
Tracy Stephen, a 23-year-old from Edo State, Nigeria, tearfully spoke on behalf of the group of 52 at The SCOAN during a live broadcast on Emmanuel TV. She recollected horrific details of torture, abuse and starvation which included – drinking water from a well with a corpse inside, nearly suffocating while hiding in a truck covered with watermelons as camouflage and witnessing teenage girls raped at gunpoint by their traffickers.
Lucky to be alive, her attempt to reach Italy was almost fatal when the over-filled rubber dinghy she had boarded ran out of fuel. “There were no life-jackets and none of us could swim,” she said, adding that children and babies were among the 140 crammed onboard.
Finally rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, she was imprisoned for three months before being repatriated to Nigeria through the intervention of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who subsequently provided a vehicle to bring the deportees to The SCOAN in recognition of the church’s humanitarian efforts.
Stephen’s narrative was one of many disturbing stories recounted, including a lady whose two children had to drink her urine to survive. While the congregants and viewers of Emmanuel TV were shocked to hear such horrific accounts, T.B. Joshua warned those who were on the verge of making similar journeys. “It is where God wants you to make it that you will make it, not where you want to make it or where you admire,” he counselled.
In support of the downtrodden deportees, T.B. Joshua presented gifts amounting to N10,000,000 (US$33,000), each of the group receiving N150,000 (US$500) alongside two bags of rice to “start their lives afresh”.
Osama Osifo, a 300 level student at the University of Benin, narrated how he was kidnapped during his journey in Libya on route to Europe from Nigeria. His older brother had to listen to Osama being mercilessly tortured while on the phone, as the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N250,000. Unable to bear the suffering his brother was passing through, Osama’s brother rallied around and managed to gather the fee. His ailing father however could not bear the shock and his already failing health ebbed away. Osama was heart-broken to hear that his dad had died. Once ransomed, Osama, unable to turn back continued the harrowing journey to Europe in hope of greener pastures. Little did he know that the suffering had just begun. On that journey, he witnessed what he would never like to remember – girls raped, friends shot before his eyes, unspeakable torture and distress.
Finally getting to the tip of Libya, he joined thousands of others in a ‘camp’ awaiting for the ‘right weather’ to embark on the treacherous trip across the sea to Italy.
Just two hours into the journey, his vessel was flagged down by the Libyan coastguard and all aboard arrested for their illegal attempt. Thrown into prison, Osama experienced more suffering. Subjected to the torturous glare of the sun, he was kept in a pit outside for hours on end as punishment for his attempted crossing. Getting home to Nigeria, his impression of his homeland has radically changed – “from hell on earth to Heaven.” “The money my brother raised for me, I could have used it to establish myself at home”, he said, wincing as he spoke. All of the deportees from Libya were provided two buses by the IOM in Lagos – one to take them to their state and another to take them to The SCOAN! Osama opted for the second vehicle.
Precious Chioma sold everything she possessed to finance her journey abroad. After being informed about “the good life abroad” by her sister. So deep was her desperation that even the thought of her two small children did nothing to dissuade her, she resolved to take her two boys on the journey, not knowing she was about to subject them to an ordeal far beyond their years. After finally reaching Libya, Precious and her two sons were packed in a carriage underneath a huge array of watermelons – alongside hundreds of other desperate immigrants. The crafty attempt to hide the illegal transport of human beings soon backfired however as the choking and cramping became too much for Precious’ little children. Their cries for help and gasps for air soon attracted the attention of local security who uncovered the truth behind the watermelons and arrested all involved. Thrown into prison, Chioma began begging for scraps of food to give her malnourished and disheveled children. Drinking her own urine and feeding it to her kids soon became a norm. After finally being deported to Nigeria through the intervention of the IOM, Precious joined scores of others who decided to make The SCOAN their first destination to seek refuge from God.
Watch below how T.B. Joshua and the Emmanuel TV Partners assisted more deportees from Libya at The SCOAN.
When hundreds of Nigerians were deported from Libya, their first port of call was The SCOAN. They arrived late in the night but were welcomed by T.B. Joshua and the Emmanuel TV Team, fed and blessed with a bag of rice and N50,000 each. Watch as they narrate their harrowing stories…
A group of Nigerians deported from Libya rush to T.B. Joshua and the Emmanuel TV Partners for assistance on their return.They receive a cash gift of 3.9 million naira and other essential commodities to help them kickstart their lives and businesses.
ADVICE FOR PARENTS & YOUTH – T.B. JOSHUA
“Parents – what legacy have we given to our children? What future have we given to our children? In terms of character? Education? Before sending your child abroad, you must have a thorough basis for that. You are sending such a child to another country with money you are supposed to put down to train them. Who will train your child for you over there? You can’t train your child here and you are sending them abroad for someone else to train – and that person already has responsibilities. It becomes a mess! Who in this world can do this apart from God? It is not too late. If you have sent your children overseas, you can call them back.
“Now, Christmas is coming. People are arriving home from overseas. You will see them looking good – they will borrow shoes, beautiful clothes, steal credit cards, transfer money in a crooked way – coming home to their motherland to shine, deceiving young ones to follow them. This is the cause of many leaving their countries. In a second, you can look good – make-up can make your face change. Many young people become enticed easily. Just by seeing someone’s photograph living overseas, you want to marry that person – whereas you don’t know the life they are living over there.
“A decorated slave is not only a slave but a big fool. Please, Christmas is coming. Appearance is deceptive. You can see some people out there with flashy and expensive things like cars. Is that what they are back home? Few are what they are back home. Back home – many are homeless, wandering. Be careful – appearance out there is deceptive. Warn your children!
“Take time to study the achievers in the world today – how many achieved those things in a foreign land? It is where God wants you to make it that you will make it, not where you want to make it or where you admire. It is not the job you admire most that is often your destined job. The job you admire most is not often the job you are destined for but the one you do not admire may turn out to be your destined job.”