Credits: Alessandra Bajec


A young woman is hanging out with her little daughter by the entrance to the office building of the Red Crescent centre in the southern town of Medenine. Looking toughened, exchanging a few fast words in English, she is ready to start telling how she ended up in Tunisia after fleeing her country more than a year ago. Back in Nigeria, Efosa, aged 28, worked as a beautician.

After getting married in 2015, she gave birth to her first-born child, Desmond. When her father-in-law passed away, she found out that he belonged to the Ogboni group, a “secret society” indigenous to the Yoruba people. It soon turned into a family dispute by the time her husband’s family pressured him heavily to become an Ogboni member since there was an expectation that their progeny would join the society. Until one day, her spouse, who had graduated from university, went out looking for work in Abuja, then disappeared.

“For months, his relatives were telling me to go and find my husband, blaming me for not knowing his whereabouts, even accusing me of hiding him”, she recalls. “They persecuted me for two years, threatened to take my little boy and forcefully induct him as member if I didn’t find my spouse”, she adds. It was in August 2017 when she decided to migrate with Desmond, 2 years old then, and her baby girl Domino. Without a plan on where to go, the young Nigerian got help from one customer at her beauty salon, who was involved in the food trade business with Libya. She offered to travel with her and a stay in an apartment in Tripoli.

The options to get out of detention centres in Libya are either running away, paying a ransom, or being sold as slaves

In her early days in the Libyan capital, on the way to the food store where her host was working, she was stopped by four men in a car who were repeatedly asking for her passport and talking to her in Arabic. Next, she was taken to the Tajoura detention centre where she spent four months.

“I was behind bars along with around 1,000 others, jammed into a hall, with mattresses on the floor, a sink and an open smelly toilet for everybody”, she recounts with a deep sigh, “they would hardly give you food except for a small bread roll with cheese and a plate of dry spaghetti. I sometimes had to beg the prison guards for a little more to feed my kids. I was mistreated, beaten, and forced to have sex several times. You can’t argue, or they will kill you”, she continues.


Read more: Libya Chronicles