Libya Breeding Ground For Modern day African Slaves To EU
The United Nations Organization (UNO) has revealed that hundreds of migrants from Nigeria and other West African countries passing through Libya enroute to Europe are creating a hub of slaves market where immigrants are being bought and sold or being held for ransom, forced labour or sexual exploitation.
This happened less than two weeks after it was ascertained that about 128 Nigerians were drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said West African migrants who survived the barbaric system and who come to Europe recounted how they were traded and in garages and car parks in the southern city of Sabha, one of Libya’s main people-smuggling hubs. The agency stated that those it interviewed disclosed that helpless migrants are purchased for between $200 and $500 and are held on average for two or three months.
Head of the IOM’s Libya mission, Othman Belbeisi, who spoke in Geneva said migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices probably because of high demand of labour in those skills.
“Migrants are being sold in the market as a commodity. Selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger and stronger”, Belbeisi noted.
The refugees and migrants, mostly from Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia, are captured as they head north towards Libya’s Mediterranean coast where some try to catch boats for Italy. Along the way, they fall victim to an barrage of armed groups and people-smuggling networks that often try to extort extra money in exchange for allowing them to continue. Most of them are used as day laborers in auto-maintenance, construction or agriculture.
Some are paid while others are forced to work without any pay. The UN migration agency narrated this incidents,remarked “Over the past few days, I have discussed these stories with many people who told me horrible stories. They all affirmed the many risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction, and later, instead of paying them, resell their victims to new buyers.
“Some migrants- mostly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians – are forced to work for the kidnappers/slave traders as guards in the ransom houses or in the ‘market’ itself.”The IOM said it had spoken to one Senegalese migrant who was held in a Libyan’s private house in Sabha with about 100 others who were beaten as they made calls to their families to ask for money to pay their captors to board them to Europe in what is known in Spanish as “kaiko” .But instead of being released he was then bought by another Libyan, who set a new price for his release.
Noting that some of those who cannot pay their captors are reportedly killed or left to starve to death, the IOM said when migrants die or are freed, others are bought to replace them.
Some international organizations are calling for something very drastic to be done, else the disturbing trend will generate implications that will re-open the sad memory of Africa’s horrendous past, where an estimated 18 million, mostly Africans, were transported to Europe and America for slavery and other forms of servitudes, reflecting a situation analysts regularly categorized, to explain the retrogressive position African continent found itself today. Libya is the main gateway for people attempting to reach Europe by sea, with more than 150,000 people making the crossing in each of the past three years.
So far this year, an estimated 26,886 migrants have crossed to Italy, over 7,000 more than during the previous year.
Libya has been in tatters since the 2011 NATO-backed action ousted the charismatic Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi. When contacted yesterday evening, the presidency said that its hands were tight on who to report to in Libya because that country is in chaos.
Senior special assistant to the president on Diaspora matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said, “Because Libya is itself in chaos, who do you report to? We keep advising our citizens while evacuating those trapped”, to recount the cost.