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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
A migrant's journey to Europe
Morgan is one of the thousands of African people who have made the perilous journey to the Canary Islands in an open fishing boat.

He was caught and deported back to Nigeria but he hasn't given up hope of getting to Europe.

Morgan got in touch with the BBC by e-mail from Morocco, and this is the story he told:

African immigrants arriving in Tenerife
Over 19,000 migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands this year

My name is Morgan, I'm 30 years old. I tried to get to the Canary Islands once before but didn't make it, I'm on my way back to try a second time.

The boat I was on was intercepted by the Spanish police as we reached land. I was put in detention and then deported back to Nigeria.

That journey was quite possibly the most frightening experience of my life and had we not been picked up by the authorities, we would all have died.

Despite this, I am on my way back, to try again, a second time.

'Fear for family'

Life in Nigeria is hard. There is such poverty. There are no jobs, there's no food and there is corruption. I can't say too much about the situation as I fear for the lives of my family, the ones I've left behind.

Lots of us were vomiting and one girl, who had been seriously vomiting, died - I can't say what happened to her body

My father died when I was young, life for my family has been difficult ever since, I don't remember a time when we didn't struggle to eat.

I have to try and make a better life for myself and it will enable me to send money back for my family.

I left Benin City in Nigeria on 11 January 1998 and began my journey. I travelled overland through Nigeria, Niger republic, Libya, Algeria and into Morocco.

I worked wherever I could, selling goods and working as a barber. I was caught by police on various occasions. On the border of Morocco, they beat me so badly that my legs were dislocated.

A friend of mine told me we should go to the western side of Morocco where we could meet someone who would help us get to the Canary Islands. As soon as my legs were better, we went.

'Boat journey'

I gave a man 300 euros. He took me out into the open desert where there were more than 70 other Africans waiting to go. We entered the boat on 7 August 2002. There were three boats, each boat carried around 25 people.

A fishing boat containing African migrants
Migrants travel for hours from the African coast

As the boat moved off, we began singing gospel music to keep our spirits up. It helped us not to think about the danger. After many hours, lots of us, including myself, were vomiting. One girl who had been seriously vomiting died. I can't say what happened to her body. I try never to think about it. I'm also afraid for my safety.

After many hours of this, a big wave came and covered the boat. Everyone was shouting, water was pouring into the boat. I thought we were dead. We were all crying, we had no idea which direction we were going in or which direction we had come from. Everyone was panicking but then the engine suddenly started again.

We all worked hard to bail out the water and we continued the journey. We were at sea for another three or four hours. I remember thinking it felt like the ocean kept opening up, swallowing our boat and spitting it back out again.

'Rescued'

We were rescued by the police as we neared the coastline. Moments after they picked us all up, our boat broke in two. If we had not been rescued, we would certainly have died at sea.

The other two boats disappeared. To this day I don't know what happened to them. I was in detention on the island for many days but we heard nothing.

I am afraid of making the journey again, but there is no other way.

Back in Nigeria, the situation was even worse. I started trying to save money again, I met a friend who had some money and we agreed to try and make the journey again.

We went from Nigeria to Benin, through Togo and Burkina Faso and into Mali. There we paid a truck driver to take us to Morocco but he dropped us in the middle of the desert in Algeria. We were left there for two days with no water. Some people died, including my friend and travel companion, John.

Luckily for us, the authorities rescued us again. It was the Algerian police this time, they found us in the desert and sent us back to Mali. That saved my life.

I gathered together as much money as I could and started out again. I'm back on the road now working where possible and trying to save enough money to take the boat again.

I am, of course, very afraid of making this boat journey again but there is no other way. I and other Africans like myself feel we have no choice. I have to try and make a better life, I pray that God will see me through.

Map showing routes travelled by Morgan







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