The Nation (Nigeria)
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 We drank water from a well with a corpse inside, Deported migrants recount ordeals

Deported migrants have recounted distressing narratives of their journeys via the Sahara Desert, Libya and the perilous Mediterranean Sea The former Europe-bound Nigerians are among the lucky ones who remain alive to tell their stories after over 3,600 other Europe-bound migrants lost their lives while trying to flee Africa The survivors spoke at the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos. The church led by Pastor TB Joshua has found itself continuously coming to the aid of deportees, who, after making these regrettable journeys, visit the church in need of financial and psychological support.

Tracy Stephen, a 23-year-old from Edo State, Nigeria, was one of the group of 52 deportees who spoke on Emmanuel TV run by the church. She gave horrific details of torture, abuse and starvation including drinking water from a well with a corpse inside, nearly suffocating while hiding in a truck covered with watermelons as camouflage and witnessing teenage girls raped at gunpoint by their traffickers.

Lucky to be alive, her attempt to reach Italy was almost fatal when the over-filled rubber dinghy she had boarded ran out of fuel. “There were no life-jackets and none of us could swim,” she said, adding that children and babies were among the 140 crammed on-board.

Finally rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, she was imprisoned for three months before being repatriated to Nigeria through the intervention of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who subsequently provided a vehicle to bring the deportees to The SCOAN in recognition of the church’s humanitarian efforts. Stephen’s narrative was one of many disturbing stories recounted, including a lady whose two children had to drink her urine to survive.

In support of the downtrodden deportees, TB Joshua presented gifts amounting to N10,000,000 (US$33,000), each of the group receiving N150,000 (US$500) alongside two bags of rice to “start their lives afresh.”

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