The Migrants from the Desert

A family of migrants sleeping on a sidewalk in downtown Monrovia.

During the dry season, families from Morocco and Mali are usually seen all over the streets of Monrovia and other cities begging for money and food. It has become somewhat of a trend, seeing so many foreign families in Liberia begging, but this time around they are finding it difficult to get donations of money or food.

With the recent chaos in commodity demands, hikes in prices, exchange rates and cost of living, many Liberians are holding on tight to their money. Some say they are preparing for elections.

“I’m going to buy a lot of stuff and start packing it in my house just in case the election doesn’t go down well,” stated Martin of Newport street.

This precaution on the part of many citizens, whether in anticipation of election or economic problems, is causing these migrant families considerable hardship especially their children whom they send to strangers in hopes of attracting alms.

The Daily Observer tried to communicate with some of these families to ask them why they are in Liberia, but they seem unable to speak English and no interpreter was nearby. One head of family managed to say,

“We will go home, no money, sun hot.”

What has begun to happen now is, those who show a helping hand to these distressed families usually wake up in the mornings to find them sleeping at their doorsteps. The migrants say they are unable to find help anywhere else, so “we find ourselves feeding them every single day until they vanish,” stated a pharmaceutical worker.

What appears to bring these families from far distances is the weather. In some instances the blisters under their feet reveals that they actually walked from far away to reach here.

In Morocco, for instance, spring is from March to May. This is the time of year when many migrant families appear in the country.  They are seen in every county seeking food and money before heading back from where they came when the weather changes.

Desert areas reach extremely hot temperatures during summer months in Morocco causing these families to take the risk of walking for weeks on end with their toddlers and other kids. Noting this, the Liberian government, through Gender Ministry, has been keeping a close watch on these families, to make sure that their children are not kidnapped or trafficked.

When these families are spotted in our communities or on the city sidewalks, the reactions are either to help them, ignore them or drive them away. The dilemma is that these families, especially those traveling with young children, are in need of help and could get separated if they are chased. Making a decision not to reach out to them with food or money does not sit right with many Liberians.  However the reality of a cash strapped family budget in a downward trending economy leaves little room to be generous. But for these migrants, whatever help one has to offer is received with appreciation and a heart-warming smile from the children.


  1. “During the dry season, families from Morocco and Mali are usually seen all over the streets of Monrovia and other cities begging for money and food….”. Hard to believe that family from morocco will leave food and job in their country and go to Monrovia to beg for money and food. Please double check and confirm your sources.

  2. With a GDP per capita (PPP) six times over, I doubt very much their would be Moroccan families in the streets of Monrovia. Also, it’s a really long way with quite hard natural and fortified borders. I think the author got the wrong country.


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