The story of Samer and Maryam, Palestinian migrants fleeing from Libya

Samer Salloum at the Salloum border camp. Credit: Caritas Switzerland

By Fred Lauener, Caritas Switzerland, reporting from the Egyptian-Libyan border, where Caritas is distributing emergency aid to migrants fleeing the unrests in Libya.

Read the original blog in German

70-year-old Samer is Palestinian. The Gaza strip is his home, but he has lived and worked in Libya for 36 years. His two sons and his daughter grew up in Libya and are grown-up. His wife passed away.

Two weeks ago, Samer started his journey back home. From Bengazi in Libya, he left for Egypt. Walking is difficult for the old man, but he wanted to leave Libya while it was still possible, before the city would be surrounded by the government’s troops. His two sons didn’t come with him. One stayed in Tripoli, the other one is in Bengazi.

Ten days ago, Samer and his daughter Maryam reached the Salloum border camp where they were stuck for more than a week. The Palestinians are the least welcome group of migrants in Salloum. The Egyptian border authorities assigned him a little space on concrete floor in front of a shed, far off from the other migrants and the aid organisations. They were not allowed to access the shed, even when it was raining or during the night.

We provided Samer and Maryam with food twice a day, checked on their health and then also stayed with them for some time to talk. Samer has a broad culture and speaks good English. With my cell phone, he tried to call his sons. He could reach his son in Tripoli, but not the one in Bengazi. The mobile phone network in Bengazi had broken down.

A few days ago, the UNHCR told us that a solution had finally been found with the authorities for the repatriation of the two migrants.

Samer and Maryam called us from Alexandria on Monday. They were both doing well and were on their way home to the Gaza Strip.


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