Watch: Pati, 16, Explains Why She Risked Her Life For Her Family
Smuggling children from Africa to Europe has become a billion dollar industry. Worse, last year, more than 4,500 migrants (including children) died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Most were fleeing conflict, war and poverty.
"I knew it was a risk going to Italy by boat," says "Pati," 16, an orphan from Nigeria. "[Still] I was comforted by the hope that, when someone rescued me, I would be able to come to Europe. It was my dream. But inside I was really scared."
Pati left home and braved a dangerous desert crossing for nearly two weeks — often without enough water — to reach the Libyan coast. Why? Because she wanted to help support herself, her four younger brothers and her grandmother.
But Pati never made it to Italy. Not long after boarding a smuggler's boat to cross the Mediterranean, the Libyan police arrested her.
Now she languishes in a detention center, one of 35 that the Libyan government maintains for "illegal" migrants. Pati spends her days imprisioned with hundreds of others in a remote concrete building. There's no electricity, no running water, and grossly inadequate sanitation.
But Pati still has hope. "When I get to Europe, I will go back to school and start a good life again," she explains.
No child should have to risk her life for her family — and her basic human rights.