Young migrants from North Africa trying to reach Europe are being increasingly caught up and sold as cheap labor in what is becoming “slave trade” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. According to the testimonies from dozens of young men who have survived the practice, slave trade is increasingly being operated among the smugglers who are profiting from the misery of others.
The IOM says that many young men, mainly from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and Senegal, are targeted as potential victims when they arrive in Niger, on their way to Libya and then to Europe. The IOM reports that the migrants often pay traffickers several hundred dollars for getting to Libya but once they arrive there, they are handed over to smugglers only to be auctioned off. There are also cases of kidnapping on the way to their destination, when they are held for ransom and then sold in Libya on the slave market – these human beings are thus treated as commodities.
IOM Chief of Mission for Libya Othman Belbeisi commented on this development that “if a migrant is being killed, sometimes it is considered normal and many of the migrants are buried without identification. We have many families who do not know where their family members are,” and then pointed out that “all they know is they left the country toward Libya or Europe or somewhere, but across the route and along the route, they do not know what has happened because there is no clear identification of those people, and many of them die and they are buried without any real identification.”
Mr. Belbeisi added that although slave trade has been around for some time, it has been flourishing over the past year. According to him, these migrants are auctioned off for $200-$500 and “many of them are kept in bondage, and many of them are even imprisoned inside an area where they are forced to work on a daily basis.”