Libya: Muslims Keep Slavery Alive
Hard line Muslims in Libya, the group once supported by Obama and Clinton, are keeping African Muslims as slaves as they try yo escape to Europe.
A growing number of migrants passing through Libya are being traded in so-called slave markets before being held for ransom, according to the UN migration agency. Many experience malnutrition and sexual abuse, while some pay the ultimate price of death.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) spoke to African migrants who recounted their experiences of being bought and sold in garages and parking lots in the southern city of Sabha, one of Libya’s main migrant smuggling hubs.
Migrants are typically traded for as little as $200 to $500, and are held for an average of two to three months, Othman Belbeisi, the head of the IOM’s Libya mission, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Migrants are being sold in the market as a commodity,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
“Selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger and stronger,” Belbeisi added.
Many of the migrants are used as day laborers in construction and agriculture. Although some are paid, others are forced to work without pay, before being sold onwards to new buyers.
Women often face extremely tragic fates.
“About women, we heard a lot about bad treatment, rape and being forced into prostitution,” Belbeisi said.
In a statement, the IOM recounted the story of a Senegalese migrant referred to as ‘SC,’ who spoke of being ‘bought’ and taken to his first ‘prison’ – a private home where more than 100 migrants were beaten and held as hostages.
SC was asked to pay 300,000 Central African Francs ($480) for his release, which he couldn’t pay. He was then sold to another Libyan, who set his release price at 600,000 CFA ($970).
The Senegalese migrant, who spoke of dire sanitary conditions and meals offered only once per day, was eventually able to get money from his family and work as an interpreter to avoid future beatings.
However, others aren’t so lucky. Those who can’t pay are often killed or left to starve to death, according to the IOM. They are buried without being identified.
“What we know is that migrants who fall into the hands of smugglers face systematic malnutrition, sexual abuse and even murder,” the IOM’s director of operations and emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker, said. “We are hearing about mass graves in the desert.”