Passing the Microphone: Migrants Tell Their Stories

June 20, 2017

The Fund for Global Human Rights is committed to building support and fostering advocacy for the rights of migrants – individuals who are forcibly displaced, fleeing conflict, and seeking safety and opportunity. On World Refugee Day, we’re sharing two firsthand accounts from migrants who faced violence when they were fleeing their home countries. Their stories are provided courtesy of Fund grantee Collectivo Caminando Fonteras.

The sheer scale of the migrant crisis in the Euro-Mediterranean region has reduced the individuals who risk everything to search for a safer life into faceless numbers—desensitizing European populations from the horrific abuses that migrants face in transit.

To help shift public opinion and challenge anti-migration narratives, grantee Camindando Fronteras developed a report Tras las Fronteras that amplifies the voices of migrants who suffer violence during their journey.

For Helena Maleno, head of Caminando and an unstoppable activist we have featured here before, the report works to challenge the dehumanization of “the other,” and gives readers an opportunity to hear the cry of those who crash against our borders.

The report details the cases of 309 migrants who called Caminando’s 24-hour hotline while in distress at sea, and tells the story of the 739 who were injured and the six individuals who died during their journey.

Based on eighteen months of participatory research amongst migrants in transit, the report provides a platform for migrants from fifteen African countries to reclaim their stories and transcend typical narratives of victimization to become protagonists in the search for justice.

Through the voices of affected migrants, the report calls on the international community to interrogate harmful border polices and see beyond the vast numbers to understand how they affect the lives of human beings.

Caminando’s report has already attracted significant media attention – and it’s easy to see why. Here’s a small glimpse of migrants telling their stories:

“I thought that if they hit me in the head, they would kill me. I have a large cut, but I was able to protect myself from the hardest blow with my hand. The doctor told me I could have lost my hand.

Throughout the time we were in the hospital the police remained outside the room to keep us under surveillance. When the doctor discharged us, we were deported to the border with Algeria.

We are miraculously alive.”

                                                           – B., from Cameroon


“I was on the fence, I wanted to ask for asylum, I shouted asylum.

No one listened to me. Very tired and hurt I got off the fence.

I looked at the Spanish guard and I told him I was fourteen years old, he caught me easily, I could not resist and he returned me to the Moroccan police.”

                                                            – Brahim, teenager from Côte d’Ivoire


The full report can be accessed here (Spanish only).