The Egyptian city of Dahmasha. About sixty kilometres from Cairo. A ghost town since several hundred of its young men went into exile via neighbouring Libya. In September, fifteen more men attempted the dangerous journey to Europe and have since disappeared — leaving behind their families in anguish.
Among the missing migrants is Mohamed Youssef’s nephew Ahmed. His uncle is distraught, “A total of 37 young people from the village left. It was a Saturday. The next day we were told that they had arrived in Libya and two days later we were told that their boat had sunk. That’s when the smuggler who lived in the village escaped.”
Two bodies have since been repatriated to Dahmasha. Internet-posted photographs and an undated video apparently show twenty survivors.
Like the other families in the village, Rawya Abdalla wants to know what happened to her two missing relatives — brothers-in-law Ahmed and Said, of whom she still has no word.
The overwhelmed 38-year-old does not know what to think about the unfortunate situation, “We received photos of 20 people still alive and were told that 17 had died. Their names were published on the Internet. We have not received any information about the survivors. We don’t know anything about them. None of them called us. We don’t know who died and who is still alive… and what happens to them. We want the bodies of those who died to be brought back to be buried here. It is unacceptable that they should be buried elsewhere after all they have been through. “
Each day, the families hope to receive information from the Egyptian authorities about the missing young men but are met with only a worrying silence — exacerbated by an Amnesty International report outlining the fate of migrants “kidnapped by militias, armed groups and traffickers” then held at ransom as they suffer torture and rape.