In Tarik Sika detention camp, where Khalid Karhi is staying, migrants said there are well-treated. But the conditions are still difficult and most of them want to come back home quickly | 
Credit: Maryline Dumas
In Tarik Sika detention camp, where Khalid Karhi is staying, migrants said there are well-treated. But the conditions are still difficult and most of them want to come back home quickly | Credit: Maryline Dumas

Between 800,000 and 1 million migrants are in Libya waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. But a lot of them lost hope once they arrived in Libya. Those who already tried the journey are now being held by Libyan forces. Now they have just one wish: to return home.

Khalid Karhi is one of those migrants trying to return home. The Moroccan left his job as a truck driver to try to reach his girlfriend living in France. He made the decision in June, convinced by his friends who managed to reach Europe. 

"We took the plane to Algeria. At the airport, a man waited for us with cars. We crossed the Algerian, the Tunisian, and the Libyan desert," explained the 26-year-old man, who arrived directly to Sabratha, 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Tripoli. It is one of the main departure points in Libya.

Considering the ongoing fighting in Libya, Karhi didn't want to stay long in the country. While some migrants have to work in Libya in order to pay the rest of the journey, Khalid came with his life savings. The road trip cost 2,000 euros (2,355 dollars) and another 3,000 euros to get a seat on the boat.

'We weren't going to make it'

"As soon as we got in the boat, I realized we weren't going to make it. The motor was not in good shape and the boat had a ripped side where a lot of water came in. I had to bail out the water so we would not drown," Karhi recounted.

Migrants often have difficulties after setting off from Libya

Karhi believed he was going to die. But Libyan coastguards rescued the boats and found 140 migrants. He was first detained in a camp in the city of Zawiya, 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. Karhi stayed there for about two weeks, but he is not very sure. Locked in a room, he couldn’t see the time passing.

"Days and nights were the same," said Karhi.

Conditions in the camp were miserable, particularly the food. "We got cheese and a small piece of bread in the morning. Then, we waited until dinner for pasta. Can you imagine eating only pasta for 15 days?"

Moving around, longing for home

Karhi has since been transferred to another camp, located in Tarik Sika in Tripoli. The camp is for migrants who will be soon repatriated thanks to International Organization for Migration (IOM). The conditions are better there; an air-conditioning system is set up and the international organizations come on a regular basis.

But migrants sleep on thin mattresses on the ground. There are one hundred people to a room. Karhi doesn’t complain so much about the living conditions but about the Moroccan authorities. With his fellow citizens, he began a hunger strike in mid-September.

"We want someone to convince our ambassador to visit us in order to find a solution to let us go out."

Karhi feels he made a mistake trying to go to Europe. He wants to go home and see his family and friends. But the last Moroccan group of migrants waited four months in the center before leaving.