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Q&A: The man smuggling Ethiopians to Europe

Photo: Ethiopian refugees held captive for ransom in Yemen are rescued from human traffickers

By AlJazeera

The number of deaths of migrants attempting the perilous journey to Europe in search of a better life has dramatically increased over the past few months.

Al Jazeera spoke to 'Ahmed,' a well known people trafficking broker who many young Ethiopians in Addis Ababa have used to try and get to Europe.

Al Jazeera: Hello, I got your number from Gagi, sir.

Ahmed: Hi.

AJ: I am calling you to know about migration routes, sir.

Ahmed: From where shall you start your journey?

AJ: From Addis [Ababa] - what do I need? 

Ahmed: If you want to go to Sudan legally, you’ll need a visa from the Sudan embassy. If you want to cross without one - there are a lot of brokers in Metema [an Ethiopian border town with Sudan].

AJ: Either way, Shall I go to Metema by car? 

Ahmed: If you are legal, you just get the bus and go. If you don't have a visa there are mini buses that come to Addis every day at midnight. They will take you to Metema - 't's a day's journey.

AJ: Which is better? 

Ahmed: If you want to travel faster, our way is better and more comfortable.

AJ: How much money do I need to get to Metema from Addis?

Ahmed: About 500 birr ($25).

AJ: To Metema? How about a visa and other things?

Ahmed: If you use us, you don't need more than that to reach Metema, but if you use the legal channels there are passport, visa, travel insurance fees. There's also an interview at the Sudanese embassy where you might pay up to 4000 birr ($200). Because of the problem now, the price might have increased.

There are Sudanese border officials who will help you cross the border, their vehicles are not searched by security people. They will then take you to where you'll sleep. The next day, you'll be taken to Khartoum.
Ahmed, People smuggler

AJ: The price has increased?

Ahmed: Because of this problem, the Sudanese embassy may be restricting visa issuance but there are brokers there who can help you get a visa at about 10,000 birr ($500).

AJ: What happens after Metema? 

Ahmed: In Metema we have places for you to stay. You do not have to go to Galabat [a Sudan border town].

AJ: That means I do not have to get into town?

Ahmed: La [No]. The border closes at 6pm. We have arrangements with hotels in Metema. That's where you'll stay. You'll get a call at night. There are Sudanese border officials who will help you cross the border, their vehicles are not searched by security people. They will then take you to where you'll sleep. The next day, you'll be taken to Khartoum.

AJ: Where shall I get those people who are going to take me to Khartoum, Metema or inside Sudan?

Ahmed: Metema, Metema.

AJ: Can I contact them from Addis? Can I get their number and finish everything in Addis?

Ahmed: You have to meet them there.

AJ: How much money do I need from there to Libya?

Ahmed: Libya? Between 45-50,000 birr ($2,175 - $2,400).

AJ: Do I need additional money after Libya?

Ahmed: In Libya, you and other people who are waiting to cross the sea decide what kind boat you want to use.

AJ: After that?

Ahmed: Once you decide, the people who are facilitating you commission for one to be built. Once the boat is ready, you choose one person among you to be trained on how to sail. Your facilitators will then give that person a compass and explain how to go.

AJ: So the type of boat we use has a cost implication right?

Ahmed: Yes, yes, the size of a boat has cost implication. If it’s a big boat the money needed from each of you will be more. The boat will be discarded once you reach the shores of Europe.

AJ: What's the total cost including boat and everything?

Ahmed: Roughly 80,000 birr ($3,850). From Italy, if you want to go to France or Germany that will be a new cost.

AJ: Is there anything else I should know?

Ahmed: Oh yes. You shouldn't show any money to the people around you. You have to keep small amounts with you for survival and you must always hide it. If you want to pay for something, or buy something, you must do it secretly. Most of our payments are done through the phone and in stages.

AJ: Does that mean most of the payments will be done in Addis?

Ahmed: Yes, once you arrive there [in Libya] you call your family to transfer the rest of the money to the brokers/agents.

AJ: Thank you so much.

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Q&A: The man smuggling Ethiopians to Europe Reviewed by Admin on 10:46 AM Rating: 5


  1. Do you know they are Eritrean origin?/some of them are in court/ which is also working HAWALA illegal money transfer too. and at their spare time spread hate propaganda of tribalism among Ethiopians even in our territories? not only in diasporans

  2. በ እውነቱ, እውነት ተናገር, ከወያነ በስተቕር, ማን በክልል, ወይስ በ ብሔር ከፋፈለን ኣልያም በሃይማኖት..Don't be fool..

  3. Interesting that this website highlights Ethiopian fleeing their country, but not one article about the hundreds of Eritreans that have perished due to the exodus. It's interesting that articles are cut and paste from other media outlets detailing the struggle of Ethiopians, but not a word about the Eritreans, instead this website puts out news that the Eritreans that leave are some how tricked and manipulated.
    The misery of Ethiopian gets highlighted, discussed and sympathy is even given to them, but as for the Eritreans, nothing. The question needs to be asked, is this website Ethiopian or Eritrean. If it is Eritrean, why report so much news about Ethiopian refugees, when there is more than enough material about Eritrean misery and suffering around the world.

  4. The UN is on that 24/7 an Eritrean site doesn't need to do that. Not one Ethiopian reported in the last 2 years in Europe. We need to protect our identity site it is so coveted.

  5. So you're saying that Eritreans shouldn't report on Eritreans because foreigners like the UN are doing it for you. Isn't that sad and wouldn't that upset you? I guess I was under the impression that Eritrean suffering and news about Eritrean migration would trump Ethiopian news on an Eritrean website.

    Besides that, how is reporting on Ethiopians protecting your identity, unless you are Ethiopian?

  6. Because they call themselves ERITREANS when arrived in Libya. Ethiopians are slaughtered to pieces if they tell the truth and never get a chance to stay in Europe. Ethipians are the most vulnerable refugees because they are covered under the Eritrean mantel to stay in Europe. But that cloud is to uncover soon and all the evil doer smugglers will pay the price, not by Eritreans but by Ethiopians who are left in between will tell the truth. That what is happening nowadays when many of smugglers are captured in Malta. Every thing has a beginning and an end JAQ the smuggler :) LOL

  7. The United States’ irresponsible praise of Ethiopia’s regime

  8. Just replace "Eritrea" with "Ethiopia" and repost it as "news" for the delusional. The MO of Madote.

  9. You have just did a wonderful job at deflecting the question. Why report on Ethiopians when Eritreans are going through one of the most trying periods ever? Are Ethiopian refugees more important than Eritreans?

  10. Because most of those who call themselves Eritreans ARE Ethiopians. No more to hide behind the kind people of Eritrea for your crimes.

  11. Let me spell it out for you slowly, because it seems that logical questions fly over your head. Why is there no reporting on Eritrean refugees? Why not highlight the misery the REAL Eritreans are going through?

  12. Let us accept most are Ethiopians, though it is phony ,why not report on the very few Eritreans. You as a people are allergy to the truth...lies...deceit..denials are your norms.


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