Tunisia (Shousha camp) – Like a Chinese whisper, Amerka (in Arabic, America) echoed many times across the large crowd of refugees who gathered in Shousha camp to bid farewell to sixty fellows departing for resettlement to the US today.
America is the dream destination for many refugees. A dream for a better future where parents can get a job to support their families and children can go to school. A normal-life situation for many like me who have been lucky to be born in a country with no war, no famine and with countless opportunities and diverse resources. Resettlement, be it to the US or any other country, is for refugees the doorway to build the future they wish most in conditions of peace and security.
Among the refugees who departed this morning is 39-year-old Hakima from Somalia who travelled to the US along with her husband Tahlil after a year spent in limbo at the Tunisian-Libyan borders. Hakima and Tahlil arrived in Shousha camp in March 2011 after fleeing the conflict in Libya. “When we arrived in the camp I was two months pregnant”, said Hakima, adding that she had gone through very different feelings in a short period of time. “I was very happy about the idea of becoming a mother and suddenly overwhelmed about the consequences of fleeing and going through my pregnancy in a camp”. In September 2011, Hakima went into labour and was urgently transferred to Ben Guerdane hospital for delivery. She said that her baby never cried after she gave birth. “I delivered a dead baby”, recounted Hakima, adding that the reason that her baby was stillborn was her complicated pregnancy. “Security and peace is what I wish for now, after fleeing for my entire life to escape violence”. In 2008 after her bother was shot dead in front of her, Hakima fled Mogadishu and started a perilous journey through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Libya in 2009.
To date UNHCR together with foreign governments have found durable solutions for 2,041 refugees who fled for their life in Tunisia’s Shosha camp last year. Since March 2011, 1,286 refugees from mainly Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Ethiopia and Eritrea have so far departed from Tunisia. Another 755 are awaiting travel arrangements to leave Shousha this year whilst more departures are foreseen next year in light of upcoming selection mission from countries such as Germany and Spain.