Pope Francis has emotional meeting with African migrant who lost his wife and daughter

While staying at a migrant camp in Libya in 2016, he met his wife, Matyla, who was from the Ivory Coast. The two of them attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe five times, including while Matyla was pregnant, each time ending up in Libyan detention centers after their attempts failed. 

In July 2023, the couple decided to flee to Tunisia with the hope that their daughter, Marie, would have access to education there, but upon their arrival, they were beaten by Tunisian police who left them in a remote desert without water. 

Pope Francis meets with Mbengue Nyimbilo Crepin, a 30-year-old man from Cameroon who shared his story of losing his wife and daughter during a meeting at the pope’s Vatican City residence Casa Santa Marta on Nov. 17. Credit: Vatican Media

“We walked for at least one hour before I lost consciousness, my wife and my daughter started to cry. I asked them to leave and leave me because if they stay they will die with me so the best it was to catch up with the others and enter Libya,” Crepin told the organization Refugees in Libya.

During the night, Sudanese strangers happened upon Crepin lying in the desert,  gave him water, and brought him back to Libya. But upon his return, he learned that his wife and daughter had not made it, but had died in the desert. 

Pope Francis told Crepin that he had prayed a lot for his wife and daughter after hearing their tragic story and offered his blessing.