Migration & Refugees

Lutchi’s Life as a Migrant Nurse in Libya

Lutchi holds pictures of her daughter and son. Photo: Ahmed Eshaebi/IOM 2017

Mar 7 2018 (IOM) - Lutrichia or “Lutchi”, as her friends call her, arrived in Libya from the Philippines in the mid-eighties. Since then, she has worked all over the country.

“When I came to Libya back in 1985, I was based in a city hospital west of Tripoli for seven years. It was the hardest time of my life and after that, I went home for few years. Then I came back to Benghazi, my favorite Libyan city, where I lived for 10 years,” said Lutchi.

She now lives in Tripoli and works as a nurse at the Tripoli Medical Centre. Over the years, Lutchi has seen the country change and is determined not to let the enduring conflict deter her from staying and working in Libya. She hopes that the situation improves soon.

“I pray with the others for peace in Libya. It’s my second home, after all, and it offered me its best, back in the day,” she said.

Lutchi at a distribution of aid for migrant workers at Tripoli Medical Centre. Photo: Ahmed Eshaebi/IOM 2017

Libya is most definitely home for Lutchi’s family; it is the place she raised her children. Her son was born here and, although her daughter was born in the Philippines, she was, as Lutchi puts it, “made in Libya”.

“My boy is now an engineer, and my girl is a nurse — like mother, like daughter,” said Lutchi.

With her two children all grown up and as she nears retirement, how she will support herself in old age weighs heavily on Lutchi’s mind.

“My purpose is to put something aside for my old age. The current situation is not allowing us to do this but we are hoping that something will come up and things will be better,” she said.

Like everyone in Libya, the fighting and insecurity ongoing since 2013 have affected Lutchi and her colleagues — making it extremely difficult to make ends meet.

She was recently one of 420 migrants, who received assistance from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in Tripoli. She received a mattress, pillows and hygiene packs, which contain essential toiletries.

IOM provides humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants, as well as displaced Libyans, throughout the country. In 2017, 41,000 migrants and 50,000 internally displaced people were reached through IOM’s humanitarian assistance programme.

“We face the same issues Libyans are facing. We don’t have access to our salaries because of the cash problems in the banks,” said Lutchi.

At the moment, Lutchi has to work in the private sector after she finishes with her day-job. This means her workday is twice as long as it should be. “It’s hard to do both but I need the money to buy food and cover other expenses. I’m happy with my main job and, if it wasn’t for the salary problem, I wouldn’t have to do a second,” she said.

Lutchi at a distribution of aid for migrant workers at Tripoli Medical Centre. Photo: Ahmed Eshaebi/IOM 2017

Lutchi is one of thousands of migrants working in Libyan’s health sector — although the number is far less than before the crisis.

“There is a crucial need for “foreign staff members” at Tripoli Medical Centre at the moment, especially since more than half of them left the country after 2014,” said Fatima Makzoom, the Head of the Nursing Department where Lutchi works.

The crisis has not only affected staffing but also medical supplies.

“I love my job because I feel like a super woman when the patients call me ‘sister’ and ask for my help. I’m really sad to see the current situation in Libya. I was able to help more people before. I can do less now due to the lack of equipment,” added Lutchi.

Lutchi with her colleagues at the Medical Centre. Photo: Ahmed Eshaebi/IOM 2017

IOM supports Libya’s medical sector through donations of equipment and medicine, supporting the medical needs of conflict-affected and displaced Libyans, as well as migrants.

IOM doctors and partners conduct regular and urgent medical visits to migrant detention centres. IOM provides medical services and support for inpatient migrants outside detention centres. These treatments provide life-saving interventions for very vulnerable people, including pregnant women and children.

IOM health teams also provide emergency medical services for migrants at disembarkation points, when they were returned to shore.

This story was posted by IOM’s team in Tripoli, Libya. For more information, please contact iomlibyapublicinfo@iom.int.

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