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Tripoli, the Limbo of Ali, Nouri and Jada

In Bou Slim, as in so many other Libyan internment centers, immigrants from West and sub-saharan Africa wait months to be repatriated

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Tripoli, the Limbo of Ali, Nouri and Jada

"Help, help to live better in our house." It is exhortation of Ali, a 24-year-old Nigerian youth detained in an internment camp for immigrants from Libya. Ali, who was intercepted and detained when he tried to embark clandestinely to Italy, after crossing deserts and mountains fleeing misery of his country, is one of faces of plague of our time: trafficking of human beings. A network of lives and histories whose epilogue is written with an unprecedented frequency and violence in images of shipwrecks of pateres swallowed by waves of Mediterranean.

While waiting to be repatriated, Ali is interned at Bou Slim, an immigrant center in same name neighborhood on outskirts of Tripoli, one of few in which journalists are admitted, and that houses up to 150 immigrants. They are mostly men, but re are also women and a dozen children who live with ir mors, who have been fortunate enough to be with m on voyages of Hope. They come from vast majority of West and sub-saharan Africa, "deposit" of immigrants. From Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Côte d'ivoire, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, but also from Sudan and Chad and, to a lesser number, fled Horn of Africa. When y arrive y are distributed by nationalities, it separates men, women and children, y are n subjected to medical controls and, if y arrive in precarious conditions, y are cared for and nourished. Then, we begin to cooperate with organizations such as International Organization for Migration (IOM) for repatriation. The time of permanence is two to three months, but lack of diplomatic representation of countries of origin in Libyan territory makes repatriation much more complex: re are too many risks.

Ali and his bror in center of Bou Slim (Tripoli, Libya). Francesco Semprini

The conditions of center are not very bad. There is an ambulatory, a kitchen and bedrooms, hangars with mattresses and blankets spread over floor. Aside re are reserved spaces for prayer; Most are Muslims, but re are also some Christians or animists. Having been able to access centre, thanks to help of Agenfor International, an NGO that collaborates in security, leads us to think that perhaps it is one of best centers in Libya. In ors, things are very different.

In courtyard we have opportunity to talk to Ali, 24-year-old Nigerian boy who, along with his bror Moktar, left his country bound for Agadez, in Niger, center of clandestine immigration. And n to Tripoli, crossing mountains and deserts for 1,000 dinars, about 300 euros to official change. Anor 1,000 is needed to embark to Italy from Garabouli, east of capital, after making a stop at Misrata. Before he even got on boat, Ali and his hapless companions were detained by local militias and led to Bou Slim. Would you try again? "No, certainly not." "Indeed, I want to ask Italy and all those who want to give us a helping hand, yes, but to help us live a better life in our country, with our loved ones and our people."

Mural in Tripoli's internment center illustrating broken dreams of immigrants. Francesco Semprini

Those who manage to cross gates of Bou Slim as free men (or almost), have to face or challenges to survive waiting for a better life. Nouri was born in Mali and is 28 years old; He takes two in Libya and works as a janitor in a Tripoli shop. He was kidnapped by a band specializing in extortion of African immigrants and his friends paid 1,300 dinars for his release, salary of three months.

Jada is a Nigerian woman who a few months ago saved a compatriot of hers reduced to sexual slavery by traffickers of human beings. She attended her until she was repatriated. As she says, re are tens, to which y leave moribund in street. Marlene and her husband fled Rwanda last year: after umpteenth intrusion of militias in ir house in Tripoli, y decided to cross sea with ir two daughters. They wanted to seek asylum in Italy, but y can no longer tell ir story, because Mediterranean engulfed. They are stories of ordinary tragedies, like those of hundreds of thousands of desperate people who defy desert, mountains and seas. Numbers to which Italy has taken action through agreements with Libya, on which application still weighs variables and unknowns, following Europe's commitment.

* Translation of News Clips.

The Italian minister and Libyan General Marco Minniti, Minister of Interior Italian, in port of Tripoli. /GETTY

The year 2017 will be remembered, between lights and shadows, as moment when a decisive turn was made in fight against trafficking of human beings in Mediterranean, thanks to activism of Italy in its relations with Libya. The signing of March 29, 2017 agreement on immigrants is result of a strategy put in place by Rome, and in particular by Minister Marco Minniti, to implicate mayors of sourn Libya, because trafficking of human beings generated by "deposit "From West Africa, black Africa and Horn of Africa first affects sourn borders of Maghreb country, long before its Mediterranean shore.

The crossings of consultations between Minniti and Libyan mayors have identified seven points to pacify different factions, ethnicities and tribes that populate this region, from Tebu to Beni Suleiman. The project has been strongly supported by President of Libyan Presidential Council, Ahmed Maetig, and welcomed in sourn Libya, according to mayor of Sebha, Hamed Al-Khayali: "The project we are taking forward with Italy" It concerns development and growth of sourn Libya in context of fight against clandestine immigration. For this purpose, project seeks to guarantee security of frontiers with technological means, to develop local universities, to improve occupation and conditions of young, to assist municipalities in issues of infrastructure and electrical energy and and to support border guard and security groups in order to maintain law enforcement. Finally, we are thinking of forming selected and trained military units to create an army linked to legitimate government of Libya, but specialized in operations in south of country.

The last point concerns struggle on south shore of Mediterranean against traffickers of people, for which Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj requested assistance to Italy in July. An aid with which one wants to avoid a maritime "Wild West" in which y live confrontations in high seas and abuses by maritime authorities and NGOs. The primary objective is to safeguard lives of immigrants, but implementation of agreements could be complicated due to relationship with General Khalifa Hafter, military that controls East, center and part of south of country ( region Cyrenaica), in Counterposition to north-west of Libya ( Tripolitana region) which is loyal to Prime Minister Serraj.

The Italian Government wanted to invite General Hafter to Italy in September after Minniti's visit to Cyrenaica, to keep open a dialogue channel with Libya's most hostile voice. However, this invitation has provoked adverse reactions. For example in Sabrata, city of coast Tripolitana (bastion of Prime Minister) considered neuralgic point of traffic of immigrants towards Italy. There flow of immigrants had been interrupted. In part, due to support of Italy to Libyan coast Guard and in part, to secret agreements between Italians and those who control that stretch of coast (and consequently, traffic that takes place in it). However, invitation from Italy to Hafter on 26 September did not sit well in military Council of Sabrata and local families have returned to "open faucet."

The problems might not end here, since Hafter, strong man of Cyrenaica, did not show anything conciliatory during meetings in Rome, according to sources close to case. The general said clearly that on 17 December, when Sjirat agreements (signed in 2015, which establish institutional framework of current Libya with a unit government led by Fayez Serraj and supported by UN) will be a moment of rupture. "That day Libyan people will revolt" in face of complete failure of project undertaken by international community, said general. "Follow meetings, roadmaps, amendments to current agreements ..." On that day re will be a revolt, Libyan National Army, people who will ask for help, and I will take control of Libya at head of military, he threatened. "From that moment on you will be compelled to speak alone with me."

This article is part of a series made by Politiken, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, La Stampa, Guardian and EL PAÍS. A trip that passes through Spain, Morocco, Libya, Gambia, Algeria and Greece. Read all reports gt; gt;

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