In Storm of Chaos

Link to the article: Mohammad Azeemullah

War has its own language to speak. It has its own story to narrate. Death and destruction are its essential features whereas chaos and confusion are its obligatory constituents.

When civil war in Libya erupted on 17th February, 2011, there was a scene of choas and confusion both among the natives and immigrants alike. While natives had their folks behind, the immigrants had hopelessness to live with.

The magnitude of revolt was so extraordinary both in its class and character that immigrants all across Libya were caught in a state of utmost trauma and anxiety. They did not know how to respond to the fast  moving events.

While Arab speaking immigrants from neighbouring countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq had all sorts of means, by road or air, to flee in a large group, the Asian migrants had no options but to wait and watch helplessly.

48 hours had passed by. There was no let down in violence. The regime’s ruthlessness in crushing the rebellion had also increased. The cities appeared to be the dwelling of the ghosts and the terror seemed to be the only language of the moment. Unpredictability ruled the hours and uncertainty characterized the event.

In that state of insecurity and vagueness, many Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Philippines and other Asian workers precipitously decided to leave as the threat to life was increasing at alarming rate each second.

To some of the migrants, it was a hard choice as they had been staying in Libya for years. There were even individuals who had been in this north African country for more than twenty five or thirty years.  Libya was like a home country to them. To move so hastily and rashly was abnormal to their comprehension.

But the hard choices had to be made. Farewell was undoubtedly painful as they had to desert whatever belongings they had, which they had managed in due course of their stay in years by parsimonious way of managing the economy.

The most expensive items to part with were car, television, air-conditioner apart from other valuable electronic items such as oven, fridge, wi-max device for internet.  The luxurious sofa, bed, carpet and utensils were other prized possessions to abandon.

The first few days of evacuations were those of utter chaos and confusion at the Embassies of their respective countries in Tripoli.  The refugees had thronged the places in the capital and were jostling to get their names registered for an early flight to flee the imminent threat.

Though women and children were given preferences, the number of refugees exceeded the number of seats in the airplane despite the availability of flights twice or thrice a day.

Those who were on their way to airport or were escaping Tunisia by road were under strict vigilance by the army who had, by that time, taken full control of the situation in the entire west of Libya except Misurata, the place where rebellion had started.

In many cases of incidents, valuable items such as laptop, mobile and camera were snatched by Qaddafi army from immigrants in the name of security. Many poor immigrants had just their clothes on to run away from the vulnerability.

The reports of boats having capsized in the Mediterranean sea also resurfaced in the news when African migrants were trying to flee to Italy. The disastrous incidents left many children shattered.

Many women from other nationalities even had to deliver babies on their way to respective countries and had weeks of stay on the Libyan-Tunisian border to be airlifted. Some refugees had also managed to escape Libya through Egypt.

All seemed to be on the run helter-skelter, not knowing where to go and how to travel. That was like a doomsday…Qayamat when everybody will be in obsession of their own exit from misfortunes.

Definitely, Libya looked destined for major bloodshed. In that background of disorder and turmoil,  those who decided to stay back had rumours of all sorts with families in their birth countries to live with.  The relatives in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Philippine had all apprehensions about those staying back in Libya.

A Tamil newspaper Daily Thanthi in India on 25th  February, 2011 had carried out a piece of news with a photograph about a missing family.

The report of three other persons gone missing in Libya was also published in Pakistan.  The facts were very difficult to verify.

The cases of physical harassments with families of immigrants were also reported in some of the Bangladeshi newspapers.

Rumours or incidents as such played havoc among the families in Asian countries as well as among those immigrants who had decided to stay back.

Truly, the unpredictable events in Libya granted legitimacy to all sorts of improbabilities and impossibilities to happen.

The armed conflicts always provide fertile ground for exploitation of both natives and non-natives alike. The immigrants were not exception.

War is not only about death and destruction. Well! while death and destruction have the capacity to terminate the sufferings and misfortunes, chaos and confusion that war yields traumatize the individuals the whole of their life and make them feel depressed endlessly. There is no going back from eternal misery. There is no greater torment than getting caught in storm of chaos and conflict.

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Categories: Civil War, Libya, Mohammad Azeemullah


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