Libyan students thank Canadian military for their sacrifice

By Nicole Halloran

Abdalslam Darafon thanks Commander Craig Skjerpen for helping to protect Libyan civilians during last year's conflict (Nicole Halloran photo)

Two Libyan students at Dalhousie got an opportunity to thank the Canadian military for protecting their families.

Mokhtar Mohamed and Abdalslam Darafon attended Commander Craig Skjerpen’s lecture at Dalhousie Friday about the role of the Canadian navy in the conflict last year in Libya.

At the end of Skjerpen’s lecture, Mohamed said, “You’ve done a great job, we really appreciate your work.”

Mohamed and Darafon are especially thankful for the Canadian military’s timeliness. Knowing that help was on its way as soon as it was needed was somewhat reassuring for the two men who still have family living in Libya.

“The Navy has a task group of ships at high readiness, ready to sail at 10 days notice – ready to sail anywhere in the world to look after Canada’s values and interests,” said Commander Skjerpen.

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Mokhtar Mohamed, the first speaker, and Abdalslam Darafon discuss their experiences during the conflict in Libya last year

The two men, who remained in Canada during the conflict, felt an obligation to return to Libya to help fight against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces but decided to remain in Canada to keep up with their studies.

“I know a lot of Libyan students all over the world. They left their studies, their works, and they went back to Libya to fight against Gadhafi-the thing that I couldn’t (have) done just because of my family. I couldn’t leave them,” said Darafon.

Darafon and Mohamed, among several other Libyan Dalhousie students, lost sleep every night because they were so worried about their families in Libya.

“We were suffering for a long, long time from Gadhafi’s regime and we thought it’s time for him to go. But he didn’t accept our voice and instead of talk to us back he used his guns, his heavy duty guns to kill Libyans,” said Darafon. “Since we don’t have the same force and power to fight him, we get help from the nation and from Canadian military as well. And it means to me a lot.”

Mohamed said that he trusted the Canadian military to properly protect and evacuate civilians and he appreciates the sacrifices they have made to protect his family.

“Thank God, finally, we got our freedom. We are free”