I am sure by now you all have heard about the Human Slavery that has been taking place at Libya. We have all been disgusted and saddened by the news.
Last month, CNN had an expose revealing video footage of men being sold at a slave auction in Libya which captured the world’s attention. Modern-day slavery which has long been a problem before the video footage was released cannot go unchecked.
The current slavery crisis in Libya stems from the smuggling of migrants — many who seek refuge and opportunities in Europe — who have paid guides to lead them from their home countries.
However, at transit points along the journey, smugglers have abducted migrants or held them at ransom for thousands of dollars until the migrants’ families pay to complete the journey. Consequently, many people never reach their destination and are either rounded up in detention centres by government authorities or forced into labour or prostitution by human traffickers. Its geography and political instability have made Libya a hotspot for forced labour, trafficking, and abuse.
Because of its location on the Mediterranean coast, Tripoli, Libya’s capital, has become a hotspot for migration and human trafficking. While awaiting deportation to their home countries at government detention centres, migrants become vulnerable to looming smugglers and human traffickers. Migrants who managed to reach Europe from Libya have long told of being kidnapped by smugglers, who would then torture them to extort cash as they waited for boats. But in recent years this abuse has developed into a modern-day slave trade – plied along routes once used by slaving caravans – that has engulfed tens of thousands of lives.
The new slave traders operate with such impunity that, survivors say, some victims are being sold in public markets. Most, however, see their lives and liberty auctioned off in private. Female migrants are generally sold into sexual slavery, a trade so lucrative it makes them more valuable as a commodity than men. According to a witness,“There is a three-story building, where the business takes place.” “Immediately, the women enter the building, that is it – they can’t leave. Some are forced to work there; some are sold elsewhere. It looks just like a normal house, but the local citizens know what is happening there. The person who buys them can sell them on for two or even four times as much.”
The men’s fates vary more, depending on their skill and who buys and sells them, according to former captives waiting to go home at a centre run by the UN’s International Organization for Migration. They said captors looked for skilled tradesmen among new slaves and sold electricians, plumbers, and others to buyers who needed particular trades. The rest were auctioned off as labourers, or often simply held as human bargaining chips. In grim private jails, their captors forced them to call families across West Africa, demanding ransoms of hundreds of dollars.
Those whose families can’t or won’t pay are beaten and tortured, often while smugglers are on the phone to relatives, the cries of agony used to wring out faster payment. People are tied up like goats, beaten with broom handles and pipes every blessed day, to get the money. If they do not do that, the money will not come. Some smugglers are even more notorious, as they cut the fingers off, or brand them with a hot iron. The luckier ones were bought as workers.
According to The BBC, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, said that migrants were priced according to their abilities. “Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” he said. “The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example, if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher.”
This is my OWN opinion but it can be stated that the instability in Libya — brought by America and other western countries topping Libya’s Prime Minister, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011 — has made it more difficult to regulate and control this abuse, making the country “virtually lawless.” The historical context cannot be lost here. The same European countries that destabilized the economies of African nations and stole their resources through colonization and the trans-Atlantic slave trade are those guarding their borders through tough immigration laws. This has helped facilitate the deadly and dangerous illegitimate migration of west Africans today.
While raising awareness of this global crisis and punishing smugglers are important measures, creating policies that can help west African countries secure economic stability and limiting Western military occupation of these countries are even more valuable.
Saying that the world has awakened to the fact that this modern-day slavery is unacceptable and a huge protest termed National Anti-Slavery March London was been planned for Saturday, 9th December which ended at The Libyan Embassy.
The march was a peaceful protest to bring attention to the human rights violations taking place present day in Libya, as of now the following atrocities are happening:
The enslaving, selling and illegal detention of black Africans in Libya. Violence against men, women, and children including the extrajudicial killing of children.
- Demanding all African leaders immediately repatriate migrants held captive.
- Demanding Libyan government close remaining detention camps and release migrants to UNHCR
- Demanding an Investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.
- Demanding, UN, EU and AU to protect the human rights of migrants, enforce rue of law while committing to safe, fair, responsible and legal migration in the form of increased resettlement, humanitarian visas, sponsorship programs, and educational scholarships.
Due to its success, other protests have been scheduled like National Anti-Slavery March Washington DC, National Anti-Slavery March LA, California and finally, National Anti-Slavery March on International Migrants Day scheduled to take place in on Monday, 18th December at Downing Street, London (see flyers below). We must continue to rise up and add our voice to the chorus. To find out about upcoming protests, use the following hashtag #Libyaslavetrade or visit africanlivesmatter.org.
It is also possible to donate money to organisations that are devoted to ending modern slavery or work to tackle the root causes: The Anti-Slavery Organisation, Save The Children and The UN Refugee Agency are good places to start.
As Bloggers & Influencers, it is our duty to Raise Awareness as we are fortunate enough to have platforms and voices online. We need to use our voices to raise awareness and encourage our followers to apply pressure on the UN and government to make long-lasting change.
Say NO to Modern Day Slavery –#Libyaslavetrade
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Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©