UNHCR has failed me

Updated: Sep 15

We arrived in Libya on 28 June 2021, and we asked for asylum on the 10th of August 2021.


The UNHCR told us to go after we were registered but I told them that we had no place to go and that we knew no one in Libya but they told us that they don't accommodate people and that there was nothing they could do. We slept for two days in front of the commission but no one attended to us , so we left and went to the sudanese embassy.


The sudanese embassy sheltered us in Gargaresh, (a neighborhood full of troubles) . We were sheltered on the 12th august 2021, and the apartment was occupied by a group of people and each room cost about 350 Libyan dinars. We lived there from 12th august until the 1st of October 2021 when the Libyan authorities and its armed militias came and broke into our apartment at 5 am in the morning. They raided and rounded the entire place and took mostly Ethiopians with their women and children.


Then in the morning around 7 am they came for us and rounded us up into military pick-ups, while on the way to the prison, the commander in charge upon seeing the condition of my disabled child told his armed men to drop and let us free. We went back to Gargaresh only to find out that our belongings were missing, the fan, bedsheets, mattresses, mobile cell phones and the remnants of savings were all gone.


Therefore we couldn't survive and we went along with other people to the UNHCR headquarters in Seraj. We sat there at its front office in a few numbers, we were ignored, abandoned, and the staff closed their gates and doors and went away.


As we encamped there, many more people started to break free from different prisons and locations and arrived where we were. We waited and waited while asking to be heard but all in vain for a period of three months and ten days. In September 2021, the UNHCR called and gave me a cash assistance of 500 Libyan dinars and hygienic kits. They didn't give me food assistance despite asking for it.


During our encampment at the UNHCR headquarters, we were part of the peaceful demonstration and protest denouncing the ill-treatment that each of us had to endure while in the Libyan territories. The UNHCR called me and told me to come to their office, I went but they offered nothing to help support our dire conditions, it was different during the winter with heavy rains, we managed however to get some plastic sheets from the well-wishers and passersby, we had to endure it all by the sidewalk of Tripoli.


We suffered so much that there were no toilets, there were no ambulances to transport the sick even at times of need when my disabled child fell ill. At times he had diarrhea and other developing symptoms of random diseases , whenever he had the diarrhea, we were in great risk of getting shot at by the neighbors. Whenever we tried to go far away to some forests, we got attacked and chased by gunmen. These scenarios were very terrifying.


We endured until one of our comrades was killed because of the toilet in front of a mosque next to the encampment where we were, and another minor from Eritrea, the other from Somalia all lost their lives.


On the 29th of December, the UNHCR called me again and interrogated me. I was asked so many questions and I told them we lived in Gargaresh, upon the raids we were among those arrested but later released. The UNHCR conducted an interview with us afterwards regarding why, when and how we entered Libya, how my life was and why I stationed myself and my child in front of its headquarter.


I reported to them in clear details all that had happened during the Darfur genocide and how we had to cross the endless desserts in search of safety and a means to survive and exist, but they offered nothing except telling us to exit its premises.


On the 4th January 2022 they called and gave me 400 Libyan dinars and told me to go find an apartment to rent , upon it I explained the conditions of my sick child but we were ignored and sent to the streets once again, I went to the community looking for an apartment to rent but everything was unaffordable given the value of the money they had given me, therefore I returned to the presidium.


On the 10th January the Libyan militias came and destroyed the little hopes that we had, we were all taken to Ain Zara detention center. In Ain Zara it was like hell for us, we were put into a very big Hangar full of people, when we arrived there it was around 6am in the morning and there was no space to sleep, it was full of people, standing too was an issue. We stood all the time in front of the Hangar and it rained on us all day.


At last the prison administrator brought us to an open where we made a little tent made of plastic sheets but still within the Ain Zara prison territory. It was raining all the time, and in most cases we slept in floods of water just like that in front of the UNHCR headquarters..


On the 15th of February, the UNHCR secured our release from Ain Zara prison along with many persons from Ethiopia , Eritrea and we were 13 from Sudan, they took us to our their offices in the old city (Madina Gadima) they gave us 500 Libyan dinars, hygienic kits and food items, they told us that each of us should go find shelters with the money given, I however couldn't reject this offer because of my sick child, calling into account all the sufferings that we were subjected to during the three months peaceful demonstrations followed by arbitrary detention in Ain Zara.


I joined another lady with whom we put together our money because of its little value in order to rent an apartment. We didn't receive any call or any support from the commission again until April when the UNHCR called and gave us 400 Libyan dinars and some biscuits. I went to the hospital to explain the situation of my child and our needs at that time but we were told that there was nothing they could do for us. At times buying a diaper became impossible for my disabled child.


I felt a lot of discrimination and segregation towards me, because in that given situation, i witnessed young men and women being taken care of by the same commission, the value of money given to them was good to rent an apartment where for me and my disabled child it was the complete opposite even accessing health facilities. For my child he needed diapers and each 7 pieces cost 25 Libyan dinars, given his health conditions he had to go to the toilets every now and then. I asked the UNHCR to at least provide these basic things for his conditions but my request was ignored.


In most cases they told me to take appointments even though I did so, I called

the hotlines but no one could ever respond to my calls. Unlucky for us, the situation became unbearable and i thought of going to Tunisia to at least find treatment for my disabled child, I went to the Tunisian embassy on the 17th April and I got the visa From the health department of Tunis for which I had to pay 150 Libyan dinars, and they embassy told me to pay 700-740 Libyan dinars and I was promised a visa but it never arrived until the 25th July, I found someone who told me that he would bring me the visa and I was told to come and wait for him by the sidewalk of the embassy.


It appeared that I was scammed by the people working at the Tunisian embassy. After paying the 740 Libyan dinars, nothing happened, they kept telling me to go and come tomorrow.


On the 1st of August 2022 I went and sat outside the embassy waiting for the man who had promised to fetch me the visa, a lady in a civilian clothe approached me and asked what i was doing by the sidewalk, I told her in details why I was there, but she insisted if I had the number of the awaiting person, I assured her that I had it, she told me to call, upon calling the man, she grabbed my phone and in few seconds another man arrived in police uniform and stood behind me, while other two armed men arrived and took away my disabled child.


We were put into the police car and they drove us to a long distance which seemed near the old city, an hour later the lady brought back my cell phone, but we were held captive in the vehicle for hours from 11am until 3pm , I'm a Muslim and when the prayer time came, I asked them to pray and they all refused and ignored me. They searched my bags and found some money and my cell phone, afterwards they drove us to Tariq Al-sekka detention. We were put in a very inhumane place with stones and hardened cement.


There were Libyan nationals for us and from it I understood that it was a campaign against the beggars and those seen standing by the streets were taken and so I was included, but later that evening they freed all the Libyans and only foreign nationals were left in the cell.


I explained to to them why I was standing in the streets and the man I was waiting for, furthermore I showed to them my asylum certificate and asked them to call the man I claimed to have been waiting for, so the called the man and he honestly told them what he was doing to help our situation but given the hardship with the documents assessment in Libya, it was taking long but they didn't believe him, they took my savings and my cellphone, enveloped it and told me I would have them upon my release.


From Tariq Al-sekka we were transferred to the Airport-road (Tariq al matar) detention center.

There they brought us a detective who interrogated me on how I entered Libya and why. I once again gave a clear detail and reasons why I left Sudan to Egypt looking for ways to treat my son but after failing at it I proceeded to Libya. They asked me if I had a job and I told them I don't.


We spent 6 days at the Airport-road detention center then on the 7th day we once again got transferred to Ain Zara. In Ain Zara prison the situation was a slow death with daily heatwaves while we were locked into big hangers with no windows or any access to natural light, our bodies got struck by the heat and wounds developed all over it.


10 days later the UNHCR came and saw us. I explained to them what we have been through after the previous release we had from the same Ain Zara prison, but given that we were abandoned to our own miseries we found ourselves in the same imp where we were months ago. I asked to be brought to lands of safety and my son to be treated but off they left and told me they would come but they never did.


Thanks to the sudanese embassy, they visited the prison and found us, then 11 days later they came and set us free. Now we are obliged to stay indoors under poor conditions because I can't go out in fear of being detained again. In recent weeks I tried going out and I was stopped several times under the pretext that I was a beggar.


I tried to reach the doctors without borders (MSF) but to no avail. To this day there's nothing from the UNHCR and my disabled child and I live in a very precarious situation governed by hunger and thirst.







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