'We lost everything': Migrant family has fled two wars, hopes to reach Germany

Illegal migration to Italy on the rise
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    Illegal migration to Italy on the rise


Illegal migration to Italy on the rise 02:29

Story highlights

  • Migrants driven by hope as well as fear
  • Syrian man who has fled two wars hopes to reach Germany
  • Eritrean fleeing military service hopes for blacksmith work in Italy

(CNN)You might assume that Imad's odyssey began a few days ago, or maybe a few months ago at most.

He and his family of seven were among 400 people -- men, women, children and babies -- picked up recently off the shore of Libya by a ship run by a search and rescue charity called the Migrant Offshore Aid Station.
But Imad's odyssey began four years ago. And it isn't over yet.
    He is an Arabic teacher from Syria. But in 2011, war, horrific and deadly, broke out in his homeland. He and his family fled for their lives.
    "I went to Libya to get away from the war in Syria," he told CNN. "And then war broke out in Libya."

    'We lost everything'

    By some estimates, 300,000 people have died in Syria's civil war. Tens of thousands have been killed in Libya, and chaos still reigns in the country.
    "My brother had a car workshop in Benghazi, but it was robbed, " Imad said. "We lost everything."
    So he took his family and fled again.
    Passage across the Mediterranean is not cheap for would-be migrants. Muhamed, another passenger on the same ship, said he paid $1,200 for the trip out of Libya.
    These are just two men among many thousands of people who have fled with their families, seeking safety and the chance to build a life.

    Thousands have died

    Tens of thousands of people, seeking the stability and economic opportunity of the European Union, have attempted to cross the Mediterranean this year. Sometimes, their boats are overcrowded and not seaworthy. Thousands have died.
    But still they come -- motivated not only by fear but by hope.
    Another passenger on the boat was Fatoum, who is 28. He fled Eritrea to avoid open-ended military service, which is mandatory for every man and unmarried women between the ages of 18 and 50.
    Fatoum hopes to find work in Italy as a blacksmith.
    And Imad, who has now fled both Syria and Libya?
    He hopes to join relatives in Germany. And have a taste of the security he wants for his family.