Agenzia Fides REPORT - “The sense of Tunisian solidarity with the Libyan refugees is amazing. They are the ones providing food to the 10,000 people amassed in Ben Gardane, the border crossing between Tunisia and Libya, where foreign workers fleeing Libya are being directed,” Bishop Elias Maroun Lahham of Tunis tells Fides. On 8 March the three Catholic nuns who work in collaboration with a group of Protestant laity to provide assistance to thousands of foreigners fleeing Libya (see Fides 03/03/2011) have returned to Ben Gardane. “The sisters have cooked for 10,000 people every day. The food has been donated by the locals. The sense of solidarity of the Tunisian is amazing. In addition to the Protestant association, assistance is offered in collaboration with Caritas France, USA, Lebanon and Tunisia,” says Bishop Lahham.
“Religious sisters will return to Ben Gardane next week. We need to wait and see if the Libyan border will be open. Up until two or three days ago, it was estimated that were between eight and ten thousand foreign workers stranded on the other side of the Tunisian-Libyan border, most of whom come from the Philippines and Bangladesh. Italy and France have offered to repatriate them as soon as possible,” says the Bishop of Tunis.
Bishop Lahham also stresses that “apart from rare isolated incidents, such as the drama of the Bangladeshi citizens who dived from a ship into the sea in an attempt to swim to Italy and drowned, these people do not want to come to Europe but rather want to return to their countries.”