Teklemichael & Michael (21 and 20 years old, Eritrea)


They aren’t real brothers, even though they say it feels like they are. They come from the same village and they left it together in 2016, sharing the same desire of being reunited with their respective blood brothers living in Germany. Like their brothers before them, they set off on the road to Europe.
They begun their route together, walking to Ethiopia, but there they got separated.
Michael is stuck for a few months waiting for money. The story is always the same: “You need to pay around 3,000 US dollars to cross a country, but you cannot work without documents. You have to wait for your family to pay.”
Teklemichael moves faster towards the next border: Sudan. But in the desert – no man’s land – he finds himself in the middle of a traders’ conflict. People that trade humans, humans that are treated worse than rotten goods.


He imitates the gesture of a gun shooting with his hand and tells us about his two weeks in the desert with scarce food and water. Desperate, he ate a stone.


He has a tattoo on his forearm. A dove, the Christian symbol of peace, hope and salvation. Inside of it ‘I love mum’. On the same arm he has rounded scars that look like cigarette burns. He shows them to us while talking about Libya. “It’s very dangerous”, he says. And that’s all we got from him about the first three months of imprisonment he spent in Al Shwerif. Teklemichael is then moved to another jail in Badi Walid, and there he meets Michael again, one of the 403 people that are being held in detention underground. They don’t see the sunlight for 9 months, sharing 1kg of pasta from one plate with ten people every other day.

Teklemichael and Michael have been in Pozzallo for two months, they will both be transferred to Germany. “Soon,”[1] they say. Seated on the bench facing the empty beach of a late September afternoon, they try to learn some German words, and we try do the same in Tigrinya. We both fail.


Before saying goodbye to us they ask for our phones. On Facebook they scroll the list of their ‘online friends’ till they find their respective brothers, green dots on the screen. Squatting on the seashore they then show them the blue horizon that is finally behind them. They laugh with them, in that way you can only do with your siblings.


[1] Later on they contacted us on Facebook. As of the end of November, they are still waiting in Pozzallo to be moved to Germany.