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Merha's Story: Fleeing into the Unknown - Smuggled from Eritrea to the UK

Meet Merha… Every month thousands of Eritreans attempt to flee repression, torture and indefinite forced conscriptions. Merha is from Eritrea and this is her story. When Merha was young she was sent to a grueling education and military training camp. When her grades were not high enough for university she was ordered to work in a tax office. Pay was only high enough for her room and board and she could send nothing home. 

One day Merha was ordered to report for military service. She decided it was time to escape. However she became tangled in a vicious smuggling chain. She paid large sums of money and risked her life travelling through mountains, deserts and oceans.

After months of traveling Merha reached England where she waited over a year to be granted asylum. Faced with homelessness she moved to London. Thankfully, she was supported by the Eritrean church. Now Merha is applying for jobs and is hopeful for her future.

This comic was generously funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the ODI

Discussion Points

  1. What are your initial reflections on Merha’s story?

  2. How do her experiences differ from what you hear in the media?

  3. How and why was Merha displaced? Do you think she is a migrant (someone who moves find work or better living conditions) or a refugee (someone fleeing conflict, persecution, or natural disasters)? Why?

  4. How has she adapted to what has happened to her? How do you think she feels?

  5. What would you have done in Merha’s situation?

  6. How should people like Merha be integrated into our society?

  7. What are her options now that she's arrived in London?

  8. How did the authorities treat Merha?

  9. How does the media report these issues in different contexts?

  10. Is it always easy to spot when a news article is biased?

  11. How are you different, and similar to Merha?

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