The story of Edouard and Mariam

The member organizations of Caritas Internationalis have mobilized to help migrants caught in the civil war unfolding in Libya and who are trying to flee the country. According to the International Migration Association, more than 328,000 people have fled Libya. Most have left the country by crossing over into Egypt or Tunisia.

Caritas has sent two emergency intervention teams to the Egyptian border and the Tunisian border to provide food, medical care, psychosocial assistance and other emergency aid to the thousands of migrants and Libyans fleeing the country.

Development and Peace colleague Danielle Leblanc is coordinating the emergency team that is present along the Libyan and Tunisian border. She sent us this text:

Edouard is from Cameroon. His wife, Mariam, is Malian. They both came to Libya in search of a good job for him, hoping for a better life. When Edouard’s wife became pregnant, they decided she would stay in Tunis and he would provide for her to get proper medical attention. Mariam was illegal in Tunisia. She was eight (8) months pregnant when the conflict started and Edouard, who flew from the country at war to join her, was now a refugee in Shousha camp, not allowed to move freely in Tunisia.

When he saw Caritas tent’s banner, Edouard came to its staff, trying his luck, looking for advice and a solution. Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, Caritas decided to call on Caritas Tunisia to support the wife in getting medical attention and protection, despite her illegal status; at the same time, the institution advocated for the stranded family with the Tunisian administration. Thanks to the generosity of sisters, Mariam has been seen by a doctor and hosted in a maternity ward, under Caritas’ protection. A special permit was obtained, and Edouard has got a seven-days permission to visit his wife, make sure she was safe and well-taken care of, before being repatriated top Cameroon.

Edouard and Mariam’s case is only one of many where Caritas, equipped only with its empathy and generosity, could make a difference. In the waiting hall of Djerba Airport, on his way home, Edouard had only good words for the small team of people who had taken the time to listen to his story and help him find a solution. This is what Caritas’ work at the Tunisian-Libyan border is about.