From Addis Ababa to Calais, one woman’s story

Addis Ababa: Aug 5, 2015 – One female migrant in Calais describes how and why she is trying to get through the Eurostar Tunnel to Britain.

Maseb Gessess
Maseb Gessess sopping

There is a cruel irony to Maseb Gessess’ story, or Baby as she is know affectionally by her Ethiopian friends.

In her homeland she was a human rights activist, advocating for the rights of women. It was this that landed her in trouble with the authorities spending a brief time, 21 days, incarcerated. Her bank account was frozen and she was harassed so she decided that leaving was her only option. She travelled over land to Sudan where she continued her work, again working for her countryfolk. But trouble came calling and she left for Libya in order to flee to Europe, along the way she saw many die as they made the arduous journey.

Once in Libya she found people smugglers who would take her via boat, an open topped craft barely fit for the Thames, never mind the 300 mile passage to Italy. Crammed on board with other sub Saharans including young children she set sail. En route a familiar story unfolded, once into international waters the boat broke down. It wasn’t clear if this was in fact the case or whether the captain claimed this so they would be picked up by a European patrol vessel which they duly were. An Italian navy ship rescued all on board her boat.

Maseb Gessess
Maseb Gesses sleeping beneath a tree

Now in Calais she says she has no human rights, “we are human, not animals” she said through tears. Last night she was sprayed with mace as she attempted to get into the Eurostar terminal, her eyes and cheeks still clearly raw from the irritant. Despite what one may think were more pressing issues, her main concern was that she couldn’t read the bible, it “let’s me forget”‘ she said.

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