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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Africans in Beirut: Nowhere to go
Ethiopians camping outside the UNHCR offices (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Beirut
Many Africans are still in Beirut despite the Israeli military assault
The continued bombardment of Lebanon by Israel has resulted in a exodus of foreign civilians. But for many Africans who live in the capital Beirut, this is not an option.

Read about their experiences below and find out their reasons for remaining in the conflict zone.

Liberian Mary, 45, cleaner/casual worker

I have lived in Lebanon for 37 years. I saw the first war, and now I am seeing the second.

I want to go back home, of course I want to but I don't have any money. I could be evacuated but all the government will allow me to take is 10kg.

While I have lived here I have bought some things - a small TV and goods like that and these things are money. If I can't take them with me then I'll lose them and the money they are worth.

Flats in Beirut in ruins after the bombs
Mary lives on the outskirts of the city and so far her home is safe

If I could take them with me maybe it would be OK, then at least I could leave the suffering here and have some money to survive on once I got home.

But how can I go home to my country, Liberia, with nothing? How will I live?

There is suffering there too.

There are no jobs there. I will not have food. I will have nothing.

I cannot go back with just my clothes. If I arrived back after 37 years - just me and my handbag - everyone will laugh at me. People will think I've been doing nothing all the time I have been away.

Also I don't feel like I have a home anymore. My family are gone.

I don't know what life in Liberia is like anymore - the war came and now it has passed. I wasn't there. I don't know my home anymore.

Ghanaian Mahmoud, 28, cleaner/casual worker

I am planning to go back home because I have been here for eight years.

You cannot go home with empty hands

But now the government is saying that everybody must leave immediately. But for me, I do not want to go home without my loot - my personal belongings, my possessions.

Likewise many other Ghanaians are refusing to return home because they can't take their things with them.

The government says it wants to helps us but then why do they want us to leave empty-handed?

I want to take my property with me because if I go, I am not coming back again.

You cannot go home with empty hands.

The home is catching fire and now if you go home without water, what will quench the fire?

My family need me, a lot, they depend on me and if I return with nothing, what will they think?

Nigerian Mary, 37, cleaner/casual worker

I have been here in Lebanon for a very long time. I came to this country at the age of 10.

Sri Lankan citizen waits be evacuated with others to Cyprus at the Sri Lankan embassy in Beirut, Lebanon
Evacuation isn't an option for many Africans, like some Sri Lankans

The war here is very bad, the situation is not good and I don't know what I am going to do right now.

I have stayed in Lebanon for 20 years but still I have nothing. I don't have a good job, I don't have any money, nothing.

I have nothing to take back and so I don't know how I can go home, back to Nigeria.

The Nigerian government has arranged for us Nigerian nationals to be evacuated to Syria. From there we could travel back home to Nigeria.

But I cannot go because I don't have anything.

I want to be evacuated, and I want to go back home to Nigeria, I do, but I cannot face my family and let them find out that I have nothing.

How can I face my family and tell them I don't have anything?

Everything is miserable.


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