Karem And Riadh

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April 2011

Karem e Riad are two cousins from Djebeniana, in the area of Sfax, the second largest city in Tunisia. Karem, 34 years old, used to live in Nice and in Italy. He has an Arts Academy degree and in Tunisia used to work as a tour operator and as a sculptor. Riadh, 25 years old, had been working at several occasional jobs in Djebeniana. He tried to enter University but he has not been admitted. Since his birth he is affected by a rheumatic disease that constrains him to be dependent on drugs.
Both unemployed and with an uncertain future to face, they are sure that Ben Ali regime’s roots are still firm. So they decide to invest all their savings to get to France. After a two days sea crossing they land in Lampedusa, where they spend several nights sleeping in a plastic tent, on the hill above the port.  By chance they meet Paolo, a Lampedusa citizen who decides to host them in his house for a few days. After almost two weeks in limbo, Karem and Riadh are embarked on a ship heading to Livorno. But in Tuscany their paths diverge: Karem is jailed in Florence while Riadh gets the temporary permit to stay.
Both cousins would like to reach Nice, where many relatives are waiting for them. So Riadh carries on travelling with some mates and eventually arrives in Ventimiglia, where is awaited by his brother Mehdi who wants to help him to cross the border. In the evening they get to Ponte S. Ludovico, close to Italy-France border. Then they succeed in walking to Menton and at last they get to Nice.
Riadh has finally reach his destination: he will be hosted, along with three friends, in his brother’s studio. In the Wad, a peripheral suburb of Nice, I meet Salah, Karem’s father, who’s still waiting for his jailed son. Actually the Wad is a dormitory where only single men provided with regular visas and employment contracts are allowed to stay. It's forbidden any kind of reunion with wives, daughters or sisters.

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Photographer: Francesca Tosarelli