The modern Libyan slave trade has attracted huge media attention in the last few days, with big news companies reporting the issue as ‘appalling’, ‘inhumane’ and ‘shocking’. For many years now, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, crossing from Niger desert into Libya have been trafficked by smugglers, with the sick manipulation of the promise to reach their initial destination from their either war-torn countries or poverty, to Europe, the ‘promised land’. Forced into slavery, they are only released on ransom. Most end up left in that state, working heavy jobs in farms as well as women who end up as sex slaves, as the ransom fees are too high for their families back home to afford. Migrants that have survived this reported that most female migrants have both been physically and sexually abused by their captives as well as both the men and the women having been starved close to death.
If you go to the market, you can pay between 2 to 500 dollars at an auction to buy a migrant that will work with you on your job or support your work- The head of the UN support mission in Libya
Yet, western countries turn a blind eye, pretending that this issue is a new one. Black Libyans and migrants are the first people to be victimised by these men, hence the west ignoring it. Unfortunately, this has been going on for many years, however it has been pushed to the side lines. Migrants used to be sold in hidden remote areas but now since it has become public knowledge, people have become de-sensitised to black bodies becoming commodities. They are openly sold in designated slave markets in certain places in Libya. It’s so unfortunate that people who have spent their whole life savings on a risky trip, on rickety boats and the knowledge that they might never survive this trip are let down by the UN by only providing these people who have gone through hell and back, the option to be sent back to the place they have been running away from. It’s not surprising though, as western countries get away with killing innocent black people without the assailants facing trial and normalizing of their mass incarceration for small crimes that their white counterparts could have charges dropped for.
Fortunately, due to this story and accounts of the migrants published on big news outlets, protesters in Paris have gathered outside the Libyan embassy in central Paris and voiced their outrage.
How can it be that in the 21st century, we’re selling human beings like merchandise?- A protester
Even though this news being public news has been a long time coming, it’s great to see some action against this and hopefully, something will be done to help the migrants to be relocated and provided with the assistance they need in the near future.