Daoud loves playing football | Photo: ANSA
Daoud loves playing football | Photo: ANSA

Daoud was born and raised in Libya to parents originally from Guinea. His fiancé Aisha was also born in Libya and grew up there, but holds Malian nationality. Despite spending their entire lives in Libya, they doubt they have a future there because there's no path to citizenship for them.

Daoud Sylla was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1990 and grew up between Benghazi and Tripoli. "I lived and grew up in Libya," he says. "I studied in Libyan schools with Libyans, including primary and secondary education, and I managed to take a French language diploma."

Daoud's parents moved to Libya before he was born -- his father had ties to the country due to a scholarship stay there. "In the seventies, my father came from Guinea to Libya through a fellowship program," Daoud says. His father studied at the University of Garyounis in Benghazi and then "married my mother in Guinea and returned to settle in Libya."

Guinean community in Tripoli

Daoud loves playing football and was even on a path to play professionally, but then the political situation in Libya changed. "I was affiliated with many Libyan sports clubs and hired by some football clubs as a key player, until the situation in Libya deteriorated from divisions and conflicts that directly affected the management of these clubs, which forced me to search for another job," he recounts.

"Here, in Tripoli, there is a Guinean community. We meet to practice social activities, coordinate some cultural and sports activities, and share some challenges and solutions that we may face," he says. He adds: "I was also lucky to get to know my fiancé Aisha through some social activities."

No future in Libya?

Aisha, who holds Malian citizenship, was also born, raised, and studied in Libya and now resides in the city of Misrata.

Aisha says that she and Daoud "are planning to get married soon, but we are not sure about the future, as there are no guarantees."

She says that because of their legal status in Libya, they doubt whether they have a future there and might soon try to move elsewhere: "We are thinking of getting out of Libya and continuing our lives outside Libya to have a better future because, in Libya, we have no guarantees, no legal privileges or rights."

'I have never left Libya, but can't apply for citizenship'

Daoud says that "since my birth, I have never left Libya, as I spent my entire life in Libya without having any problems with the Libyans." He also says that his experiences with Libyans have been largely positive and that the Libyan people have not made him feel unwelcome, for the most part.

"My personal experience with the Libyan people is fortunate," he says. "I lived in several cities across Libya. I made many Libyan friends, and they considered me as if I'm one of them, and I did not face any social problems. I do not deny that I was subjected to some racism, but it was not frequently or severely and that goes for all stages of my life, from when I went through education, to the sport I played, or even in my current workplace; I work as a sales coordinator for women's clothing."

They can't buy a home

However, he says that there's no path to become Libyan citizens for him or Aisha and that they are barred from many things -- including buying a home. "We only have birth certificates and certificates of schools where I studied. There is no way to go through some formalities such as a permanent residence or apply for nationality, and I cannot own or buy an apartment or any real estate," he says.

Daoud believes that people who were born in Libya "should not be treated like other illegal immigrants." He noted that he works and is able to pay his bills. "My culture and lifestyle show that I am Libyan, [but according to Libyan law,] I have nothing to do with Libya."


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