Written by Elana Banks
Refugees and migrants in Libya are being targeted, preyed upon, and sold like animals; A modern day slave market.
Libya is a hub for migration, for it is a gateway to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. These migrants are especially vulnerable since they are migrating from poor, war-torn, and economically-failing countries, and crossing one of the deadliest routes on the planet. Smugglers exploit that vulnerability and lure people into modern servitude and sex trafficking, among other things. Smugglers are originally paid to get people to the Libyan border. But, they instead hold migrants as captives. These smugglers hold these would-be migrants in desolate living conditions, starve them, and abuse them until their captives’ funds run out. According to a report obtained by CNN from a young man named Victory, he was sold by his smugglers as a day laborer, and told that the transaction would help pay off his debt. What he was told did not hold truth, for he was told that the profit made was not enough, and then he was given back to his smugglers. He was then resold several more times, before he was released by aid of his family’s ransom payments.
The Libyan government has rejected affiliation with an auction captured on video and further investigated in the previously mentioned CNN report, but they still state that increased amounts of international support is needed to tackle this issue. Libya is unfortunately not stable enough on its own to handle the problem. But, an investigation has been launched by Libyan authorities, and in turn a committee has been appointed to oversee it. The investigation is meant to catch those responsible for the capture and exploitation of migrants and refugees, and to free the victims and return them to their home countries safely. Hopefully, this investigation will be conducted in a timely manner so that no more lives are lost.
The steadily-increasing amount of migrants going into Libya from Sub-Saharan Africa have made this issue even more prevalent. There are about 700,000 migrants currently in Libya. This large amount of people is making the issue even more difficult to manage. And even though these auctions are essentially held out in the open, in farmhouses and similar structures, the Libyan government’s limited accessibility to the technology needed to efficiently conduct an investigation such as this will undoubtedly hinder the progression of the investigation. This issue is not getting the attention that it so desperately needs. The world tends to view human-trafficking and slavery as a taboo subject, so when it is mentioned it is not talked about in depth. But these are human lives at stake. These people have families. They mean something to someone. We cannot turn a blind eye to these injustices.