This testimony recounts a harrowing story of personal tragedy, resilience, and the desperate search for closure. It follows the journey of Pato, Fati and their daughter Marie, their experiences in Libya and their moment of separation in Tunisia. This narration highlights the struggles faced by asylum seekers, the perils of migration and the quest to find the final resting place of departed family members.
“My legal name is Mbengue Nyimbilo Crepin”. Known as Pato, he says, was born on October 26, 1993. He hails from the Littoral region of Cameroon but spent his formative years in Buea, located in the English-speaking area. It was amidst the clashes between the secessionists and the army that “I left Cameroon because they killed my big sister, the one who did everything for me.”
Matyla Dosso, who presented herself in Libya as Fati, in fear of religious persecution, was born on January 30, 1993. She hailed from Gbèka, Touba, in the west of the Ivory Coast but grew up in Yopougon, Abidjan. “She was an orphan of father and mother, the only daughter of her parents. Some pretend to be her sisters today and yet they never cared about her. Maty had no one, just the sister of her mother and her cousin with whom they were in contact.”
Pato keeps saying “Maty came to Libya in 2016 and so did I. We met in a camp in Qarabulli, during a trip in preparation for Italy and we got together until her death. We met in June 2016 and gave birth to Marie who was born on March 12, 2017.”
Fati was pregnant the first time she tried to cross the sea with Pato from Libya to Europe. Four more times they have tried, each of which ended up in jail. At first Bani-Walid, from July-August 2016. Then in Tarik Al Sekka detention center, from November 2019 to February 2020. From 3rd to 22nd of May 2021 they were held in Ghout-Al-shaal/Al-Mabani facility. Finally from the 5th to the 28th August 2021 they were held in Tariq al Matar detention center.
The couple's aspirations to reach Europe and secure a better future yield no fruits.
In 2019, during their detention in Tajoura prison, a tragic bombing, in which many people died, left Pato with a perforated left eardrum that remains untreated to this day. This painful injury has caused continuous discomfort, his ear has been discharging blood and emitting a foul odor for the past four years.
From Sea to Land: A constant rejection prompted to a desperate escape and heartbreaking separation
On Thursday July 13, 2023, Pato, Fati and Marie, accompanied by three men and another woman, embarked on a treacherous journey to escape Libya to Tunisia with the hope to give their daughter access to education. She had never been to school since her birth, it was her mother's dream, something impossible in Libya. However, their efforts were met with apprehension by the Tunisian police, who resorted to violence, confiscating and destroying their phones. “We arrived in Tunisia on Friday morning. We tried to cross the border, the police caught and beat us with weapons, sending us back to the desert. We stayed there all day and on Friday night we tried again, but this time we succeeded. Saturday morning we were already in Ben Gardane, Zarzis. We were looking for a place where we could drink water and that's where the police intercepted my wife, my daughter and me.” After a night of suffering and hunger in the desert, the authorities transferred them to another checkpoint, where further mistreatment ensued. On Sunday morning, they were abandoned in the remote desert, with approximately thirty others, devoid of water.
The Heart-Wrenching Farewell As exhaustion overcame Pato, he implored his wife and child to leave him behind, knowing that their survival depended on it. “We walked for at least 1 hour before I lost consciousness, my wife and my daughter started to cry. I asked them to leave and leave me because if they stay they will die with me so the best it was to catch up with the others and enter Libya. They left, leaving me lying in the desert. I had no more strength and I knew that for me it was going to stop there because I was barely breathing.” When night fell, he encountered three Sudanese strangers who provided him with water. These strangers, also bound for Libya, offered Pato a chance to join them, leading to a night journey that culminated in their arrival at the border. Eventually, he entered Libya on Monday morning, but without his wife and daughter. The Unbearable Loss and the Search for Closure: “Knowing that my wife and my daughter managed to return to Libya, I remained without any information of their whereabouts until I learned the news on social networks. When they showed me the photos I recognized their clothes and their bodies”.
“It's the exact same position the two always take to bed. I was hoping maybe they're just tired and they'll come back but so far they're not there. What hurts me is that they knew before they died that I too died because of the state in which they left me but God saved me. I headed to Libya to surprise my family, it is rather me who is surprised.”
The anguish of not knowing where their bodies were laid to rest weighs heavily on Pato’s heart. He yearns to discover the location, even if it means risking his own life. This desire stems from Maty's own anguish at not knowing where her mother was buried, a burden that Pato wishes to alleviate.
“I have no idea where they put their bodies, they talk about morgue but I never heard that the Libyans put bodies in the morgue. I would like to know where their bodies are even if it is at the risk of my life.” This testimony is the story of many disbeliefs. While searching for reliable sources and trying to give answers to hypocrite information consumers, misinformation spread out on the harm of Pato: “I see that people have published a photo of another young girl claiming that she is my Marie, but put these pictures together and their features will not match. How can I not recognise my own child?”
Pato is asking for well wishers to help him locate the corpses of his wife and his daughter, their repatriation to Ivory Coast. Here is a call for crowdfunding to support him in these hard times and to help him bid farewell to his loved ones. https://gofund.me/a7d9f71a