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Emergency Trust Fund for Africa
News article15 April 20201 min read

Helping women refugees in Libya


Aisha * left her war-torn country, Somalia, with her mother when she was 20 years-old, following the death of her father and a brother as a result of the conflict. They were desperate for a safe place to start a new life. However, she and her mother ended up being held by armed traffickers in southern Libya (Bani Waleed) for more than three years. In captivity, she and her mother were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, as well as forced labour.

Finally, Aisha and her mother managed to scrape enough money together sent by relatives living abroad to pay the traffickers for their release and travel to Tripoli. They immediately contacted the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR to register as asylum seekers and seek help. At the Community Day Centre, in Tripoli, the women received medical check-ups and were provided with emergency relief items and cash assistance. They were also referred to psycho-social specialists with UNHCR’s partner, CESVI, for follow-up assistance and counselling. Aisha and her mother, with the help of Somali community leaders had found accommodation and other support to re-start their lives. “When our case worker saw her after the initial appointment, things had really changed”, said Ghaida Nbaya, GBV supervisor at CESVI. “She was wearing clean clothes, had found safe accommodation, and even her voice had changed. She was clear and more confident.”

Aisha, now 25, is determined to make the most of her new freedom.We are doing well now, and my mother is also better. I’m searching for work, so we can better support ourselves. I feel relieved. I have a second chance to be able to live a better life. Thanks to the helping hands, the support we’ve received, I will never give up.”

The EU Trust Fund for Africa in Libya is supporting UNHCR’s assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya, as well as funding life-saving assistance at disembarkation points and in detention centres.

*Her name has been changed for protection reasons.


Publication date
15 April 2020
Region and Country
  • Libya
  • Improved migration management

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