There is such a thing as “Libya sickness”. Word of Nancy Porsia


By John

A long journey to Libya, a country full of contradictions, but also filled with anxiety for social and political justice, always in the heart of Nancy Porsiaindependent journalist expert on the Middle East, author of reports from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Eritrea and Ethiopia and of «Libya sickness. My days on the Mediterranean front” (Bompiani), a war diary (dedicated to Dumi the freedom fighter, who died in Libya, and to Ahmed and Mohamed who died at sea in Europe) which guides us through flashbacks and archive materials into the complex post-Gaddafi Libyan situation and the intricate issue of migrant trafficking.

She is ready to leave for her first time in Libya, in October 2011, when in a country in full revolution the rebels of Misurata kill Muammar Gaddafi. A missed appointment for her, who since she was a girl had wanted to go to places of war (she was in Damascus, studying Arabic when Saddam Hussein was hanged in 2006) to understand the conflicts up close. So, here she is based in Tripoli where, together with a translator and fixer (who looks for local contacts for journalists, because – she writes – journalists “are not psychic diviners, they don’t find the stories on their own”), she moves in that an immense territory which, after the retreat of NATO, was abandoned by journalists and photographers, but not by you.

Learn that Cyrenaica is synonymous with dissidenceit is there that pieces of all the Libyan tribes who have never bowed to the dictator live together, he knows that there are many fugitive Gaddafi supporters, thanks to the people with whom he forms precious friendships he knows the neighborhoods where there is drug and alcohol dealing and sex and understands the nature of a conflict, in a closed society, which appears social before political.

He lives on his skin and his revolutionary friends the transition from the brutality of the regime to the brazen violence of the young militiamen who flood the streets with Kalashnikovs. Despite NATO’s proclamations of democracy, a free but unstable Libya is abandoned by the West, and the revolution turns into civil war with out-of-control armed groups entrusted with security. And when in February 2015 the Islamic State raised its flag on the beach of Sirte, Gaddafi’s first kingdom, it was a new war within the warwhich pushes many activists and human rights defenders, hopeful in the failed democratization process, to abandon a devastated and impoverished country even by relying on whoever they help them cross the sea.

Porsia is there, experiencing the epochal tragedy of migration up closevisits refugee camps and prisons full of migrants in extreme conditions, where the female body is always the most offended, speaks with traffickers and smugglers, demystifies the European cliché of the bad trafficker, acquires pieces of truth (even if – he writes – by doing so you realize how useless you are) and in one of his 2016 investigations he denounces the “business” of the real leaders of migrant trafficking and the collusion of the Libyan coast guard and human traffickers. With all the risks and consequences that forced her in 2017, despite the “Libya sickness”, to leave the country, pregnant with her Libyan partner.