Providing Aid at the Libyan Border

Libyan Border

CRS team members Suzanna Tkalec and Vivian Manneh interview migrant workers stranded at the Tunisia/Libya border. At Libya’s border with Egypt, CRS and Caritas distributed food and water to thousands of migrant workers. Photo by Sébastien Dechamps for CRS


Suzanna Tkalec (CRS) and Sébastien Dechamps (Caritas) traveled to the Libya/Tunisia border to talk to migrant workers forced to suddenly flee the violent uprising in Libya. They sent this report.

Hundreds of cars, vans, pick-ups and trucks are pushing towards the entrance of Ras Ajdir camp about seven kilometers from the Libya / Tunisia border. About 15,000 people are in the camp waiting to be sent back to their home countries. Now that Tunisian and Egyptian nationals have been able to return, Bangladeshis are the largest resident group in the camp. The list of nationalities illustrates the reality of contemporary migration trends. People who traveled to Libya looking for jobs are now waiting to return to their homelands from across the globe from Philippines and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Syria.

On Sunday, Tunisian volunteers loaded these vehicles with food, bottles of water, blankets and mattresses. This is their expression of solidarity with those suffering.

One volunteer, Hassen, runs a little business in the city of Mansura about three hundred kilometers from the border. After four hours on the road he and his family have reached the camp this morning with his little truck stuffed with food parcels. They quickly organized and began to distribute food.

“This is obvious: these people need help and we all can do something while waiting and hoping the situation in Libya will have a positive ending,” Hassen said.

Hassen is able to use his personal experiences of hunger in Tunisia to relate to those suffering at the Libyan border now.

“In the remote villages in the hinterland of Tunisia we know hunger,” he said. “How can we not help these refugees today?”

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