Eyasu and Balcham had dreamed of a better life. They wanted to reach Europe and build a future for themselves and their family members. Of course, the journey was not without risk. But still, they could never have imagined that two months after they said their goodbyes, they would walk across the shore as sheep to the slaughter.
The images of Eyasu, Balcham and other Ethiopian Christians were broadcast over the internet by their executioners. Their family members back home did not even know they had been caught by ISIS.
Seyoum, the older brother of Eyasu, learned of his death on Facebook. “I was very worried about how to tell my family, but everyone is a Facebook user these days, so people in our village told my family that Eyasu was among the group that were shown on the video,” he said.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Seyoum said, “Our sorrows are great. It’s horrific when a human is slaughtered like a sheep.”
“My son is gone. I cannot bear it. I am burning,” a sobbing Ahaza, the mother of Eyasu, said at a gathering of family members.
Eyasu’s sister said that she had never seen such a barbaric act. “I am shocked. This is so ruthless. I can’t think of him being slaughtered. How on earth can humans behave so mercilessly and how can they commit such a horrible act?”
Eyasu and Balcham were close friends who grew up as neighbors in the impoverished Cherkos district of the capital Addis Ababa. Eyasu had unsuccessfully tried to land a job in Qatar. They were believed to have left Ethiopia through Sudan and later traveled to Libya where they planned to take a boat to Europe before being seized by ISIS.
“The traffickers promised to fly him to Italy from Khartoum at a cost of 90,000 birr ($4,500), which I paid for myself,” said Seyoum. “That was a month ago, and that was the last time I heard from him before I saw those prisoner pictures on Facebook.”