Abandoned to their fate. A family of immigrants trapped in the ship graveyard of Sidi Beller.

Libya: Thousands of black immigrants, the invisible victims of war

Abandoned to their fate. A family of immigrants trapped in the ship graveyard of Sidi Beller.

Abandoned to their fate. A family of immigrants trapped in the ship graveyard of Sidi Beller.

About 40 km from Tripoli, in a cemetery of wooden boats, are clustered around two thousand blacks, half a dozen African countries, who are prohibited from leaving the waste where they have been dragged. They are the most invisible victims of this war. They have lost everything, are undocumented, can not prove who they are and many of them were beaten, women were abused and only the lucky ones managed to get time with their families in Libya.

“They say we are mercenaries because we are black, if we go we get arrested.” He says a man named Efosa was born in Ghana and years ago he came to Libya to work in construction. Its name means wealth in their language. Is desolate. Shows a shirt with two holes and shorts to wear as their only possessions.

Efosa has no family. There was a brother to him before the war, but says he lost, not sure if he was killed, was very small, counts, and the words were stuck in their throat.

He speaks alongside a rickety boat, which you have hung a curtain side towel. Behind the little protection are two mattresses for sleeping.

Everyone ask cigarettes, extending his hand. There is no food in sight or anything that looks like an infirmary. Colorful wooden boats are arranged next to each other and leaving streets in long rows between each row. So stuck on that wide concrete platform, have become homes that can not abide. They all came here believing that the nightmare would be temporary.

“There must be a country that cares about us,” says Walter Ojewe, who came from Nigeria three years ago. His is the largest community in the wilderness where there are miserable people of Sudan, Somalia and Gambia, among others. There are no seniors and only see two or three children, but more protected in the shadows of the sun.

Walter seems the most political. “We are black, there’s a lot of discrimination and racism,” says an attempt to explain why the dictatorship cornered when the war began and now hold as prisoners the militia rebels. Remember that led there two months ago when the city was still in the hands of Kadafi. And still no freedom after the city fell to the revolutionaries.

For them there is no difference between them.

“We need help, many of us do not have papers. And they have come from our embassies, but to no avail, “he says. That strange prison is under the supervision of UNHCR, the refugee office of the UN, Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, but do not notice the effect of these presences.

There are at least six sites with these refugees, the largest where we are in Sidi Beller, and all this tremendous insecurity and horror stories. In one of the streets that form between the ships, there is a small thin woman in front of them. The girl is called Gift William, 26 years old, also from Nigeria. Take a scar under his right eye. It’s a bullet wound. It has over one arm. She says that she was attacked on a street in Tripoli at the beginning of the war six months ago. Do not know who they were, but was killed in the shooting of her husband. The eye of the wound is opened in a gesture that looks amazing but it’s fury. It wants to return to Nigeria because his only family, his father just died. He has no one there no one here.

Source: Reports by journalist Marcelo Cantelmi, special envoy of the newspaper Clarin
Photo: courtesy of Marcelo Cantelmi

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