The Libyan Slave Trade | What we Know

The Libyan Slave Trade | What we Know

What has caused the Slave trade?

Several factors are said to have contributed to people smuggling/slave trade in Libya.

Firstly, the splintered Libyan government, this was largely caused by the overthrow of Gaddafi and not having a proper leader and government to replace him. The result has been no rule of law, because the government is too small and under-resourced to deal with the people smugglers.

Another factor that has contributed to the slave trade is the influx of refugees from other parts of Africa fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.  On the 28th February 2017, the Guardian published an article with the headline ” Refugee women and children ‘beaten, raped and starved in Libyan hellholes”. That was then when the migrant crisis was hidden, fast forward eight months later, the situation has been so normalized that people are being sold in public.

Statement from IOM’s head of operation and emergencies Mohammed Abdiker

“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya], The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

According to aljerzira, each of the past three years there has been 150,000 refugees and migrants that have crossed into Europe. This is in the hopes of having a better life, the journey from Libya to Europe is so dangerous that according to the Washington Post, 3,000 people have drowned each year for the past four years.

Statement from the U.N. Human rights commissioner

“We cannot even guess the scale of the abuses inflicted on migrants in all these hidden places, untouched by the rule of law,” said U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Huseein in a September statement. “The situation of migrants crossing Libya was appalling during Gaddafi’s era, but it has become diabolical since.”

Who is Selling and buy the migrants?

As it has been reported, the migrants are being sold for as little as $400,  since the destabilization of Libya,  Migrant smugglers have made thousands of dollars putting migrants on rickety boats and sending across the Mediterranean.

According to CNN the migrants are then being sold off to buyers that use them as manual labour.  The same footage that can be located on the CNN link above shows a big strong Africa man being auctioned for farm work.

Based on the statement from the UN human rights commissioner, The slave trade used to go on when Gaddafi’s was in power. So the question then is, which country needs slave labour. Because for the slave trade to have lasted this long, it means there are countries that are willing to buy.

The buyers in 2015 were using social media, to advertise their prices, for example, a trip to from Sudan to Libya and then to Italy would coast two migrants $3,500 and $ 1500 for crossing the rest for transport from the Sudanese capital. Social media has since shut down the recruitment pages and the business now operates via word of mouth.

The UN-backed Libyan government has since launched a formal investigation into the slave trade. Libya though is considered a failed state since Gaddafi who was in power for more three decades was overthrown by the U.S. in collaboration with France in 2011.

The lawlessness has made the slave and smuggling business lucrative. The Libyan government and the E.U. have since reached an agreement to allow emergency repatriation of migrants facing abuse after weeks of negotiation.


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