DISPLACED VICTIMS OF THE LIBYAN 2011 REVOLUTION SAGA
RESIDING AT CHOUCHA CAMP OF UNHCR,TUNISIA.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN AGREEMENT WITH THE COMMUNITIES,
RELATING THE ISSUES SURRONUNDING US AT THE MOMENTS. FURTHER
EXPLAINING THE PRESENT SITUATION OF THE CAMP AND OTHER RELATED
ISSUES AND SEGREGATED REPORT FOR THE COMMUNITIES.
OUR DIFFICULTIES, OUR COMPLAINTS AND DEMANDS ARE STIPULATED.
FIRST, RESPECT AND REGARDS BE GIVEN TO WHOM IT IS DUE
Our special thanks and regards to the UNHCR management team, to the
Tunisian government and its citizens for their patience and perseverance for
receiving us during the Libyan crisis. Thanks also to all the international
organisations that have been there for us and to the ressetlement countries
for their responce and concern to the affected victims of the Libyan conflict.
We fled Libya, a region in conflict, to Tunisia,under the auction and
evacuation of the UNHCR, Red Cross and other international organisations. In
many ways, the Libyan crisis has a great impact on us. Most of us lost our
families,friends and loved ones in Libya and the Mediteranean sea. Most of us
also lost all properties and source of livelihood.
The camp is situated 6km away from the Libyan/Tunisian border, around a
military base. The camp is a result and product of the Libyan crisis of 2011. It
is located in a deserted and isolated region, meant for no means but rearing
of animals. We have spent a period of one year and some months in this
region, in pains and total misery, and we now found ourselves without any
solution. We have aged ones among us, the weak (vulnerables), pregnant
women, single and newly delivered babies crying out for help.
Everyone has its own condition in the camp, but from the location we can
understand a bit of the conditions, circumstances and situations in Choucha.
We are succumbed to the ruthless aggression of the situation we are into
today, which has its own definition on us. The climatic weather conditions are
extreme, being winter or summer. Now we are facing horrible storms
everyday, which makes it so difficult for lives and living. It’s like HELL in a
The feeding rations, with its specific nutrients, are poor, though this is a
refugee camp. Hygiene kits distribution that had no specific date mandated
for distribution has its own impact on the camp residents. In many cases, it
takes longer than expected and we have women and children in our midst
suffering from this point.
MEDICAL ATTENTION IN THE CAMP
Some people affirm the camp is over international sanitary standards. But in
our own case it is not that much the case. The medical centre in the camp
has not enough medical apparatus for treatments and can only render first
aid medical services with no much benefits attached to the rejected cases
hence they have no refugee certificate. We have some sick people living in
the camp without proper medical attention for them.
The interview process has so many beneficiaries that have finally been
recognised and are in the pipeline of ressetlements. Except those whose
asylum claims were denied and complain about complicated mistakes on
their files. The mistakes are the following :
– errors in translation and use of translators implicated in the conflicts of
the asylum seekers
– unveiling files that during the interviews supposed to be confidential to
the government of a said country we are escaping – not as criminals or
terrorist as the the UNHCR representative recently said – but for the
reasons that were explained during the interviews. Still, we had some
bitter experiences during and after the interviews that we are now
The doubt to the complexity task is not clear, hence most of the interviews
were not conducted in a safe enviroment. Indeed, the camp was then under
emergency and most interviews were conducted in a haste.
For the rejected asylum seekers, the last three options given by the UNHCR
offices are to the extreme:
(1) Return to country of origin: If we were safe and protected in our countries
of origin, none of us will be here wasting tme, even when having received a
final rejection of our asylum claim.
(2)Return to country of residence (Libya): Everyone is fully aware of the
political instability libya is undergoing now.
(3)Remain here in Tunisia illegally.
Our appeal is a wrought to this mayhem we have been resonating, hence we
cannot do anything by ourselves, we can neither help nor save the situation
we are into except for the intervention of legal solicitors and the civil society.
As the largest community living in Choucha, we have received good
assistance from the UNHCR and its surbordinates. A special thanks to the
offices. Bur we are facing some difficulties within the community which are
the people among us without a solution. Two files were finally rejected, and
fourty-nine persons arrived the camp in October and were only registered in
December after the end of the resettlement program.
Twenty have been recognised as refugees, the rest are pending. The people
recognised as refugees have no ressetlement possibilities according to the
offices of the UNHCR, saying that any registration after the first of December
will not be eligible for resettlement. This in spite of the fact that the people
arrived before this date but were not registered immediately.
Recently, seventy-four Somalians that had left by boat from Libya were taken
to Choucha from the Mediteranean sea by Tunisian authorities. They are now
living in the camp without any attention from the UNHCR.
We are experiencing civil war in our country for more than twenty-three
years, most of us lost our families and loved ones in the Somalian crisis and
this has made us to be refugees around the world. Those without
ressetlements cannot return back because of the war in our country and we
are living in a critical and weak condition.
Our appeal is, we are in a great need for help.
TESTIMONY OF H., A SOMALIAN WHOSE LEG WAS AMPUTATED:
“In Somalia, I had alot of problems which led to the lost of my leg. I fled from
Somalia to Kenya, then Uganda, and finally Libya. The Libyan revolution
forced me out of Libya. I had so many bitter experiences in Libya. I was
arrested and imprisoned, I spent a long period of time in the Libyan/Tunisian
border. Finally, I found my path to Choucha, but due to my defraction, the
military easily identified me and sent me back twice to the border. At the
third time, before the UNHCR made an interview for me, I was recognised but
they told me there will be no ressetlement for me. Life in Choucha for me is
very tough and hard because I have no one to assist me on my basic needs
and help in my condition. My appeal is that i need an urgent assistance.”
The Sudan Darfur community has sent its gratefulness to the offices of the
UNHCR and all its organisations for their support to them all the way from
Libya in terms of accomodating them and the same time most of them has
benefited from the ressetlement programmes. But we are still facing so many
challenges in the community.
Darfur is a region in Sudan that has been in conflict for years. In the camp,
the both ethnies in conflict are mixed. The major problem we face here is that
we have 14 single persons and 5 families who received a final rejection of
their asylum claim. The people living with final rejections complained about
the translators who have always been from their rivals from Sudan. We fear
that perhaps the process of the interviews was biased, since the asylum
seegkers were regarding them as Arab tribes and enemies. They further
explained that the problem in Sudan has absolutely nothing to do with them.
Most of us fled Sudan because we refuse to support the regime that is
fighting and killing its own citizen and now under the embargo not to return to
the country. Most of us were given birth to in Libya, so the war in Sudan has
nothing to do with our files. In the camp some families among us have been
denied medical services because they do not have the refugee status
certificate. We are appealing for help.
Note: We backdated a letter to the offices of the UNHCR, concerning the
biased interpretations of the translators, requesting them to use translators
from our own ethny. But their refused our request.
The second group is the group of persons that arrived the camp,the month of
December. We had a horrible experience at the Libyan-Tunisian border, where
we spent two months because we were not allowed to cross the border into
Tunisia. One of us delivered twins babies at that point and after much
pressure there was a night we made so many negotiations, but our claims
were finally refused. A night came that the Libyan military were making
some problems at the border and we fled the border in different
directions,finally coming into Choucha. The offices made for us an interview,
we received the refugee certificate but we are not part of the ressetlement
plan. Among us are families, elderlies that are the weak ones and singles. We
suffered from bad medical attention. Our appeal is for a plan from the UNHCR
to secure our future.
I. H. , A SUDANESE FROM DARFUR HAS SHARED HIS BITTERNESS IN THE CAMP
According to the reporter, the health condition of I. H., a 31 year old Sudan
Darfurian is deteriorating. He has undergone a major surgery and still lying
critically ill in the tent:
“My bitterness is directed to the offices of the UNHCR, who have neglected
me in the tent, considering that I came to the camp not for asylum but to
require a medical attention, which is a wrong impression. I made my
interviews and was denied the refugee status certificate. Now I do not have
access to proper medical attention,because I have no refugee certificate. My
condition is critic, is my fate to survive or…? I came to choucha march 22,
2011 with my medical report from libya. I made my registration but after the
interviews and appeal, I received the letter of final rejection and cannot
return back to my country because of the civil war. My appeal is for my life to
be saved and to be in a good condition.”
The offices have done a great deal for us,so we say thanks to them. Most of
us are part of the ressetlement program,its a good moment for us.
Testimony of a 27 year old Eritrean, Mohammed: “I was born and raised in
Ethiopia where my family had first leaved escaping the crisis and political
instability in our country. I did my first registration with the offices of the
NUHCR in libya. The war in libya made me come to Tunisia where I made my
interviews with the offices of the UNHCR and was finally rejected. My appeal
is for a reconsideration of my claim.”
The group of persons that take part in this report happens to be the rejected
cases in the community among whom are familes, single and children. This
group consist of 10 cases and their complaint is first that the political
instability in their country has sent them out of their country. We explained in
details during the interviews why we cannot return back to our country, but
at the end we received a rejection. We made the appeal, and finally received
the final rejection. We are making an appeal as we cannot return back to our
country,that our files should be reviewed.
THE NIGERIAN COMMUNITY
Our hearty greetings to the UNHCR management teams and all its
organisations, the Tunisian government and other international organizations
that have been there for us throughout these period of Libyan crisis. We
appreciate their efforts in kind,donor,patience and contributions,during these
period of libyan crisis.Thanks to all.
The Nigerian community in Choucha, presently 44 persons. One family
consisting of a husband and wife was given the refugee status. Leaving the
rest 40 and two newly delivered babies in pains and total dismay, without a
We fled Libya, a war zone, just like every other person. Thousands of
Nigerians that had the means have gone back home. No place like home, but
the circumstance we found ourselves has its own definition on us.
Most of us are from the Niger delta region. Everyone is aware of what is going
on there and we are mainly activists who take part in freedom fight or
ecological justice in our regional place of birth. Victims of religious disputes,
most of us lost our families. We fled the country for safety and the Libyan
crisis 2011 has a great impact of another lost on us. A family lost the wife and
baby, another lost the sister. Also many of us lost of the means of livelihood
and properties. These are our pains from home. Devastating and frustrating is
the condition in which we found ourselves. We made an interview and were
we explained everything in details, but we were denied the UNHCR
protection. As if to make things worse for us, our ambassador was invited to
the camp and studied our claims (coming from interviews said to be
confidential) and later passed his comment by threatening us of a new case
file upon our return in Nigeria. Few weeks after his visit we received the final
rejection letters in mass for our asylum claims.
The situation is of turmoil and horrible, hence we cannot return back to Libya
due to the political instability, neither back to our country, nor remain here.
Our fate we cannot determine. We are making a general appeal for legal
solicitors to advocate our cases and for the attention of the civil society and a
review of our files hence we cant do anything to save the situation we are
into. Thank you.
REPORT FROM A NIGERIAN THAT WAS SHOT IN THE CAMP
On the 6th of May 2011 a Nigerian by name Mr J. was shot by the military
when he tried to intervene in his fellow Nigerian brother that the military
impounded and had already beaten to the point of coma. Mr. J. has
undergone a major surgery, where the bullet was extracted and return to the
camp in ill health condition (deteriorating). He said: “I made my interview for
months, but no result and am lying critical ill, there is another surgery I am
supposed to undergo, of my ball and socket joint that was affected when I fell
down. But there has been no positive response from the offices of the UNHCR.
My condition in the tent without an assistant or helper is hard on me, also
living without a solution. My appeal is a legal solicitor to advocate my case
and for an urgent solution. Thank you.”
THE GHANAIAN COMMUNITY
According to the community reporter, he says most of us are from a region
stricken by a tribe conflict, and most of us lost our families in this regional
conflict. A conflict that has been on for years and being the minority we are
now subjected to our rivals. We fled our country for this fear and back in
Libya were the crisis of 2011 has made us to be among the evacuation
process. Those that had the means returned back home. Except the 7 of us
remaining in the Choucha camp without a solution.
We did the registration, and after that the interviews. We received the first
rejection after our appeal and then were given the final rejection. Our
condition living without a solution is critical. Most especially we cannot return
back to our country of origin.Our appeal is for a review of our files.
Thousands of Bangladeshis in the history of Choucha camp were evacuated
from the Libyan crisis and thousands voluntarily repatriated back home. But
the two of us remaining have commitments back in our country and reason
for persecution. We have earlier explained this reasons in our interviews and
now we have only received a final rejection tfrom the UNCHR. We are living in
the hard condition of the camp without a solution. We are appealing for
solicitors on our claims, hence we cannot return back to our country of origin.
THE CHADIAN COMMUNITY
We are the largest rejected community in the camp for except few cases that
their asylum claims were granted and have backdated a letter of the threat
they received to the UNHCR. On the 17,12,2011 a Chadian military officer
from the Chadian embassy in Libya that we know is from the intelligence
services visited the camp and was in contact with the UNHCR offices. After
his visit to the camp most of our families in Chad received threats from the
government. The Chadians that received the final rejections in choucha after
the scenerio amount to 149 and are appealing for a reopening of our files and
also for legal solicitors advocacy.
THE IVORIAN COMMUNITY
First of all, our gratitude to the Board of UNHCR, NGOs and THE GOVERNMENT
OF TUNISIA for hosting us during the Libyan crisis.
From the beginning of the Libyan crisis, we, being Ivorians have left Libya to
Tunisia to benefit from humanitarian protection.
Those of us who feel safe there have returned to Cote d’Ivoire. Others, not
believing in humanitarian protection, by boat for Italy. And we who have
remained have experimented issues concerning the Ivorian crisis for years.
It was in 2011 when the UNHCR office told us to wait with the intention of
helping us. Days and months went by when before the office told us : your
country is peaceful and economically stable. Seeing the criteria for acquiring
refugee status they themselves had provided did not include economic
aspects, we felt betrayed.
On the contrary our brothers from Eritrea have all been granted the refugee
status. This even though there is no conflict in that country anymore. The
Eritreans have started being granted the refugee status early in May 2011
until now. We on our side are constantly harassed by some officials of the
UNHCR telling us to return to Libya if possible. This while at the same time,
complaints are coming from all communities concerning the living conditions
in the camp.
According to the UNHCR office, the answers are supposed to be released after
three days following the interview as for all other nationalities in the camp.
We, the Ivorian starts despite we are in a very limited number, have
remained without results for three to four months after which the negative
answers have been given massively to us.
Our difficulties then started. Living conditions in the desert of Shousha are
very painful for us. That while we remain without a solution. Weather and
climate there are horrible. It feels like we are living in hell.
Distribution of hygiene kits is even more seldom than before. It is now four
months since the last distribution.
The interviews determining the acquisition of refugee status were not done
well at all. Then the result comes automatically as a rejection, which
according to the UNHCR may be followed by an appeal. The mechanism in
place is perfect, but given the speed of file processing, order and recognition
have not been made to the displaced persons who came from Libya.
Most Ivorians’ and also West Africans’ cases were rejected without an
adequate study has been made. Most of these rejected cases involve people
who are fleeing problems or political and religious conflicts.
The three options that UNHCR give us after receiveing a definitive rejection:
1. Go to Libya by ourselves
2. Stay in Tunisia by ourselves
3. Going to our home country via a flight from IOM
In case of refusal of these three options, the Tunisian military forces will be
obliged to repatriate you to your country of origin under the order of the
It’s been a year since we live in the camp of Shousha and things are very
Indeed, we call for the repair of our rights and re-examination of our asylum
applications in order to get protection from the UN. The total number of
rejected persons totals 298 including 28 Ivorians. On behalf of all the rejected
people, we require immediate intervention of the international community.
Among the communities that are rejected are Ivorians, Chadians, Liberians
and Sierra Leoneans, Sudanese, Nigerians and other minority communities.