Close Libyan Slave Markets - FreedomUnited.org

Call to Close Libyan Slave Markets

“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants.” Livia Manante, IOM officer.1

Since 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Known as the ‘Gateway to Europe’, Libya has seen many people pass through its borders as part of their journey. Unfortunately, traffickers are exploiting the complete lack of governance in the country and migrant and refugees’ desperation. Slave markets are flourishing around the country.

Traffickers offering to take refugees and migrants to the coast are instead selling them to the highest bidder. Migrants and refugees faced with the loss of their savings and huge debts are often unable to buy their way out.

“They took people and put them in the street, under a sign that said ‘for sale’” Shamsuddin Jibril, migrant from Cameroon.2

On the market, men and women are sold for between $200 and $500 each.3 Once bought, they are held for ransom in mass prisons and detention centers, or used as forced labor or sexual exploitation. Conditions are extreme, with hundreds crammed into filthy rooms, with little space, food or access to water. Often, they will be resold and moved between prisons as their slave masters demand more and more in ransom.

Those that escape have spoken of the methods used by the slave masters to extract ransoms from relatives, including beating and torturing their captives, often while on the phone to their families.

 “People were tied up like goats, beaten with broom handles and pipes every blessed day, to get the money,” Isoomah, survivor from Liberia.4

Those that do escape are often severely malnourished and bearing the wounds of torture. Almost 100% of women reported to have been sexually abused.5 Many aren’t so fortunate – death and murder are a reality for those who can’t pay. The IOM have reported the findings of mass graves in the deserts of Libya.6

The escalation of chaos and violence in Libya since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has encouraged the spread of crime and exploitation. With no stable government to uphold the law, there is no protection for the hundreds of thousands of migrants, many without legal papers or funds, travelling through its lands.

Besides efforts to try and save lives at sea, nothing is being done to bring an end to the horrors of Libyan slave markets, and stop those rescued off the Libyan coast from being returned to detention centres where they risk enslavement.

We must call for immediate action and demand the international community take notice of this atrocity.

Case Study One: The Survivor

Yusuf and his friend Abdullah travelled to Libya from Nigeria – they paid half their fares up front and agreed to work on arrival to make up the rest. But upon completing the journey, the driver kept their money and sold them to a slave master. Accused of not paying, Yusuf and Abdullah were led away, “as we entered the building, we heard the lock turning,” Yusuf said. “Then they said , ‘you should call your family fast and ask for money.’” Following extensive torture, Bundu died of a heart attack. Yusuf risked an escape attempt after being ordered to take his friend’s body to the hospital, scared he too would die. Although now free, Yusuf has to live with what happens and is trying to etch out a survival in Agadez, Niger.7

 

Case Study Two: The Slave Trader

Abahi* uses his Hilux to drive people to Sabha, in south west Libya, where they will be sold in the slave markets. The 27 migrants he transports in his van are a mix of cargo and passengers – those who haven’t fully paid their fare tragically unaware of their fate. The militia ruling the markets in Sabha pay Abahi 400 euros for each passenger who has not paid their fare. Abahi admits to worrying about the migrants’ fate, but claims, “it’s no good. But what can we do? Inside Libya, everything is ruled by the militias.”8

*Name changed to protect privacy

 

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53 Comments on "Close Libyan Slave Markets"

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Susanne Koenig
Guest

I tend to think it would be pretty important to get these and other reports on the real destiny and dangers of trusting human traffickers selling trips to Europe through to the hub places and countries from where asylum seekers are leaving, and start an Information campaign right there.

Emeka Chikwe
Guest
Youths in Africa are enslaved with religious ideology and philosophy that some religions came to rob them their God given resources and impoverish them. That those who don’t believe in their religion are infidels and should not have anything to do with them and should exterminated. Others mentored them to never allow any person from other religions to lead them no matter their professionalism and skills, yet they used the same religion to rob and enslave the minors and unemployed youths. These led to massive exodus of the youths and teens to Europe to seek for greener pasture to be… Read more »
Emeka Chikwe
Guest

This is a result of bad leadership in Africa. Bad management of resources and an open testimony of corruption in the countries of Africa where leaders don’t care about there citizens but themselves and their families. Some are also as a result of religious bigotry and extremism in their various communities.

Ani Sherab
Guest

The cause: Human misery and greed.

Martin Molteno
Guest

We are all trying to cure the symptoms. We can never win. We need to cure the cause.
The cause is too many children that can not be supported and consequently grow into adults who can not support themselves.
The UN should offer $1000 to every sterilised couple after their first child. (both sterilised = $1000)

James Bodie
Guest

It is well understood that when living standards go up, the birth rate goes down.

thad d. solloway
Guest

We have the same in the USA , but it is very underground . . rebuke the creed of greed and all slave traders

thad d. solloway
Guest

it is done in the USA but it is underground .

Dan moloney
Guest

So what is the so called government of Libya doing about this. Every night overloaded boats leave Libyan shores bound for Italy. I know half the country is in Isis hands but I is about time the Libyans stood up to them. Meanwhile all we can do is sign petitions which they will never even hear about.

KAREN E. H.
Guest

(CAPS ARE FOR OLD EYES AND CRIPPLED HANDS ) THIS IS THE VERY THING THE UNITED STATES WAS SET UP TO KEEP FROM HAPPENING. WHY ARE THE OTHER COUNTRIES DOING TRADE ETC WITH ANY COUNTRY SELLING SLAVES. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO DESERVE THEIR FREEDOM. THIS IS 2017, THE FUTURE OF MANKIND. NO ONE SHOULD BE ANYONE’S SLAVE.

LWhite
Guest
I love our country but the U.S. was actively engaged in the slave trade while setting up the country and continues to engage in it to this day. It is now called the Prison Industrial Complex where an inordinately high number of black people (both men and women) are jailed for the most trivial of reasons or sometimes, no reason at all, and required to work for less than $1/ hr., sometimes as low as $0.16 (16 cents)/hr. Some of America’s most prominent corporations purchase this labor to keep their expenses down and their profits up. Thought you should know.
Ab K
Guest

It is so sad that in this day and age there is such a thing as slavery. My heart goes out to the bought and sold and to their families.
SHAME,SHAME on the so called humans that think this acceptable 😢

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Refugees and migrants travelling through Libya are being exploited by traffickers. They are sold on slave markets to be used for forced labor or sexual exploitation while their families are extorted for ransom.

Thousands of migrants and refugees travel through Libya each year. It is imperative that more is done to protect them from the risk of slavery and bring their traffickers to justice.

I call for immediate action to be taken by the international community to combat this atrocity.

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