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Ethiopian Fixer Flees to Rome After Abduction and Detention

In 2022, Zleke, an Ethiopian fixer, was abducted by armed men, taken to a remote prison, and held for six weeks. His captors demanded 30,000 birr ($535) for his release. After paying, Zleke’s wife freed him, but he remained under threat. Fearing for his life, Zleke fled Ethiopia with the help of an Italian friend. As a fixer, he had assisted a journalist covering the Tigray war. This work led to his detention, likely due to his proximity to foreign media. Now in a refugee camp in Rome, Zleke struggles with homesickness and separation from his family, who await visas. Despite the challenges, he remains hopeful and grateful for his safety. He works night shifts at a hotel, reflecting on the disparity between his old life and his new reality while dreaming of reuniting with his family. Zleke’s experience is reminiscent of what fixers face across the continent in their efforts to help western journalists shine a light on pertinent issues.