In the heart of Tunis, Saffiatu Mansaray stands outside the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office, her pregnant form a poignant symbol of the challenges faced by migrants seeking refuge in Europe. Her story, shared with Aljazeera news on December 26, 2023, unfolds against the backdrop of uncertainty, desperation, and the harsh realities of migration.

Saffiatu, 32, left Sierra Leone in November with her husband, embarking on a perilous journey that has led them to Tunisia. As they wait for a chance to reach Europe, Saffiatu’s anxiety grows with each passing day of her seven-month pregnancy. The couple’s journey has been fraught with difficulties, from being chased by the police in the port city of Sfax to a perilous encounter with gangs near the Tunisian-Algerian border.

Leaving two children behind in Freetown, Sierra Leone, under the care of an aunt, Saffiatu bears the weight of that decision. Memories of her departure linger, and the uncertainty of their future intensifies as they navigate the challenges in Tunisia. Saffiatu and her husband had been living in Sfax until the police intervened, forcing them to the desert, a fate she fears might repeat.

The journey from Sierra Leone to Tunisia was not without peril. The couple found themselves at the Tunisian-Algerian border, vulnerable to gangs preying on refugees. The return journey on foot was arduous, marked by sickness and loss within the group. Saffiatu recounts the hardships with a passive shrug, highlighting the vulnerability of those seeking safety.

Back in Tunisia, the couple faces economic hardship. With no work available, Saffiatu resorts to begging for survival. Daily, she sits, hoping for the generosity of passersby, collecting meager amounts to sustain herself and her unborn child. Despite the challenges, she clings to the hope that if “God grants [her] the wish,” she will continue the journey to Europe, where she believes opportunities await.

The harsh reality is that Saffiatu has received no medical attention during her time in Tunisia. No doctor, no nurse – just a daily struggle for survival. As she sits, she dreams of a future beyond the alley, beyond the makeshift shelter taking shape across from her. A future where she can provide for her children and elderly parents in Freetown.