Migrants face “modern-time slavery” in Libya
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has described the situation facing migrants in Libya as “modern-time slavery”.
Security risks, poor governance and economic challenges have restricted migrants’ options, with many held against their will in detention centres and facing a life-threatening situation.
In an interview with VOA, the IOM chief of mission in Libya, Othman Belbeisi, said that there are currently 700,000 migrants from 35 countries living in Libya. Some have just arrived, while others have already lived in the country for a number of years. Many are from West Africa and most lack valid travel documents.
Smuggling and trafficking networks have proliferated and many migrants are held captive in detention centres where they face inhumane conditions.
Belbeisi emphasized the need to restore peace and stability in order to end human smuggling and trafficking in Libya.
“Everything else can be achieved once you have security, without security, we will continue to be challenged if we want to achieve anything.
“Unfortunately, we see the migrants being criminalized and detained. And the smugglers – many of them are free,” Belbeisi said.
IOM says it is concerned about the increasing number of migrant deaths in Libya, both in the desert and at sea.
A number of Gambians have recently described the horrors they or their family members have faced in Libya. This includes the families of three Gambian boys, who have reportedly gone missing in Libya.
Lalo Conteh, Batubou Camara and Sambujang Conteh set out for Libya, with the intention to reach Europe. The last time their families heard from them was a year ago from the Libyan city of Sabratha, where they intended to cross to Italy. Their families are now appealing for any information to find out what has happened to the boys.
Famara Conteh, a relative of one of the boys, said the agent who was paid to smuggle them into Europe lied that the boys had reached Italy.
‘’Their parents are worried. Until today, we haven’t heard from them. We don’t know anything about their whereabouts. We have contacted the agent in Libya who said the boat that took them reached Italy, but this is a lie,’’ he said.
Anyone who has information about the boys can reach Famara on +393510659881.
TMP – 04/05/2018