A group of Syrian refugees who attempted to smuggle themselves illegally by what they call the "boats of death" from Turkey to Italy have been detained by Egyptian police and sent to Karmouz prison in Alexandria. The refugees who fled from the civil war in Syria, set off from the Turkish port town of Mersin on September 23, 2014. The boat's engine stopped in Egyptian waters leaving them adrift. They spent 7 days floating in the sea with little food or water before they were picked up by the Egyptian coast guard on September 30, 2014, and brought back to Alexandria.
These photos and videos were taken in the Alexandrian prison on March 22, 2015. They show how the refugees are living their daily lives inside the prison where the prison warden has allowed them to have laptops and mobile phones. According to the refugees who declined to give their names, there are 74 Syrians and Syrian-Palestinians who are being detained in this prison, including 15 children and 8 women. They were all victims of human trafficking.
In the videos two men describe the ordeal of the refugees and their desperation. One of the men asked that his face be obscured.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man)
1min 35 sec
“We left Syria around a year ago. After several attempts, we after traveling reached Egypt in the sea for seven days. We almost died in the middle of the sea because the boat broke down. We suffered a lot. We lost drinking water, luggage and food. A baby who was with us on the boat died. The Egyptian navy arrested us on September 30, 2014. Until this day, we have been detained in Karmouz prison. We were transferred to different prisoners. There is not any country that will receive us because we do not have documents. The only country that would receive us is Syria. However, we cannot return to Syria. All human rights organizations have talked with us, but they have given us false promises. We do not have any hope. I also have a personal suffering. I lost my wife, son and brother in another journey, during which the boat drowned. My psychological situation is very bad. We are suffering a lot.
We hope that you… we urge all the officials in Egypt or any other country as well as the [United Nations] to help us to travel to Europe, which was our initial destination.”