A two year old Tunisian child is reported to be stranded in a Libyan jail after losing his father and being separated from his mother following violent clashes with the country’s military forces.
The maternal grandfather of a boy known as Temim Jendoubi reported his grandson missing to the civil society organisation, The Rescue Association of Tunisians Trapped Abroad, (RATTA). The association subsequently made an urgent appeal to the Ministry of Women and Children on September 27th, urging them to retrieve the child. However, thus far, no response has been received.
Commenting upon the case, RATTA President, Mohamed Iqbel Ben Rejeb said, “For us the problem is not with our Libyan partners, who we collaborate with, nor with the Libyan authorities. The problem is with the Tunisian authorities who are doing nothing.”
The child is understood to be held by RADA, the Libyan Special Forces 0f Deterrence currently allied with the UN backed government in Tripoli. According to Ben Rejeb, the child is thought to be in a prison in Mitiga, near Tripoli. Information about the baby’s health is very limited and Ben Rejeb said “we only know the he is alive and that, in general, he’s fine.”
According to family members, the child’s Mother is presently missing and thought to be pregnant with another child. The child’s father is a known terror suspect, Wajid Jendoubi whose current whereabouts are unknown according to the news site, Akha Khaber Online. Jendoubi was originally thought to have been killed during the US airstrikes on the Islamic State, (Daesh) training camp at Sabratha in February 2016 However, when RADA forces later inspected the bodies, Jendoubi was not among the dead.
Militia forces later located the infant in the care of known female fighter, Rahma Chekhaoui as she was escaping from Sabratha following confrontations there.
Temim Jendoubi is not the only baby thought to be orphaned in Libya. Ben Rejeb believes that there are currently at least ten children aged under five years of age abandoned in Libyan jails. According to Ben Rejeb, most of the orphans’ “parents were killed during air strikes against Daesh targets in Sirte and Sabratha.” He stressed that the evidence for the missing children had been provided by eyewitnesses and that he had no further information on children orphaned in Iraq or Syria.
Tunisia Live contacted the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for comment on the Government’s efforts to recover the missing child. However, staff at the Ministry denied all knowledge of the case and declined to comment further.