The eastern routes
From the countries of the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan), the starting point of the journey to Libya is usually Sudan, and in particular its capital Khartoum, which for migrants coming from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia can be either a city of transit on the journey to Europe, or a destination, at least provisionally.
There are several routes to Khartoum. From Somalia some migrants take the highly dangerous route across the Ethiopian border between Dolo Odo and Feerfeer and onwards to the capital Addis Ababa from where the journey continues to Qadarif in Sudan through Gondar (see Figure 1.4). This is also the route usually followed by Ethiopian migrants. However, some migrants prefer to go by plane to Hargeysa in Somaliland and then to go to Addis Ababa through Jijiga (see Figure 1.5).
figure 1.5 Route from Somalia to Khartoum via Hargeisa Source: Original map from d-maps.com.
Others reach Sudan from the South, crossing Kenya and Uganda (see Figure 1.6). According to a woman interviewee, ‘going directly to Ethiopia was very dangerous, while crossing the borders between Kenya and Uganda and Sudan and Uganda is easier without documents’ (Interview with migrants n.29).
For their part, Eritreans generally enter Sudanese territory by crossing the border between Teseney and Kassala, but also by crossing the Northern border near Karora from where they reach Khartoum passing through Port Sudan (see Figure 1.7). These routes are extremely dangerous, especially for Eritrean soldiers escaping National Military Service. Once in Khartoum migrants try to collect the money needed to get to Libya by working or receiving money from relatives and friends.
In Khartoum, it is usually Somali, Eritrean or Ethiopian intermediaries that manage the onward journey: people are transported out of
figure 1.6 Route to Khartoum via Kenya and Uganda Source: Original map from d-maps.com.
Khartoum in small cars, and once in Omdurman, are moved to the edge of the desert where the journey continues by full-sized freight trucks, sitting on top of piles of packaged goods. The initial drivers are generally Sudanese, but when the migrants change vehicles in the middle of the desert, they are usually replaced by Libyans or Chadians. There are two main threats for migrants travelling along this route: one is crossing the Darfur region, where there is the risk of encountering armed rebels or bandits; the second is extortion by the Libyan and Chadian drivers who very often stop in the desert and ask people to pay additional sums of money. Drivers are also known to leave migrants who fall from the trucks to die in the desert.