ON BOARD THE OPEN ARMS, OFF SICILY (Reuters) - A man from Niger who was shot in the foot while in Libya was among a group of 11 migrants evacuated from the Open Arms rescue vessel by the Italian Coast Guard on Sunday.
Mamoudou Doulla, 38, stepped gingerly around the deck of the Open Arms while waiting to be taken ashore after medics from the charity dressed his wound and wrapped his foot in plastic to protect it from the water.
Doulla, one of the most seriously injured of the 73 migrants pulled from a dinghy around 50 miles off the Libyan coast on Wednesday night, told a Reuters journalist on board the Open Arms that he had spent 14 months in Libya, trying to scrape together the $1,300 needed to pay for the crossing to Europe.
He said he and his fellow migrants were hounded by the authorities in the north African country and forced to work without pay.
Doulla said he was arrested by police in the port city of Zuwara where he spent 16 days in prison before managing to escape. He did not say how or when he was shot, other than it happened in Libya.
He said he would be happy to be accepted by any European country but Spain would be his first choice for a new home.
“I’m going to work to save my life because, while I left my country, I’m a married man with two wives and five children,” he said.
The Open Arms is searching for a port to disembark the remaining 62 migrants.
Reporting by Juan Medina; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan