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African Migrants Sold in Libya “Slave Markets”

African Migrants Sold in Libya “Slave Markets”African Migrants Sold in Libya “Slave Markets”

Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration said.

Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of IOM in Libya told BBC.

Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

He said that migrants held at the facility were told to call their families, who would be asked for money to pay for their release, and some were beaten while on the phone to allow relatives to hear them being tortured.

He described “dreadful” conditions where migrants were forced to survive on limited food supplies, with those unable to pay either killed or left to starve, the report adds.

Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

The IOM’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, said those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians are forced to work “as guards in the ransom houses or in the ‘market’ itself”, the IOM employee added.

The organization has called the emergence of these markets “a disturbing new trend in the already dire situation for migrants in Libya”.

In February, the UN children’s agency Unicef released a report documenting-in sometimes horrific detail-stories of slavery, violence and sexual abuse experienced by large numbers of vulnerable children travelling from Libya to Italy.

The report, “A Deadly Journey for Children”, said that almost 26,000 children-most of them unaccompanied-crossed the Mediterranean in 2016, many of them suffering abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

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