Libya is the new marketplace for slave traders. Migrants from all across West Africa are being openly traded in public slave markets. Survivors of the slave trade told the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that Libya has private prisons and slave markets. The country has become a departure point for refugees trying to make their way to Europe. The migrants arriving in Libya from sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable due to the lack of money and documentation hence they become easy targets for the slave trade.
The IOM’s head of operation and emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker, made a statement saying that the situation in Libya is dire. A Senegalese survivor revealed how he was brought by smugglers across Niger in a bus to the southern Libyan city of Sabha. He also revealed that he was scheduled to take a boat trip to Europe.
Unfortunately, the trip did not turn out as expected, the middleman did not get his fee and as a result, the survivor was put up for sale along with other passengers. The survivor was taken to a prison where he worked without pay while the captors demanded 300,000 West African francs (about £380) before selling him on to a larger jail. An IOM officer known as Livia Manante who is based in Niger revealed that migrants would be brought to a square where they were put up for sale.
Manante also pointed out that IOM Italy had received the same version of the story from migrants. Some of the migrants are picked up at various landing points in southern Italy. Unfortunately, the migrants who did not get their ransom paid were often taken away and killed. Other migrants would starve to death or diseases due to the inhumane conditions within which they lived in.
Reports indicate that a migrant would be sold at a rate of between $200 (£160) and $500 (£400) each, many migrants were forced into captivity for months before they are freed. This year has seen more than 170 bodies of migrants washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean while the Libyan Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.
Approximately 1,500 people have been repatriated back to West Africa with the help of IOM. The migration organization has also revamped its efforts as it tries to inform people not to risk the journey to Libya. The chief IOM spokesman in Geneva revealed that the migrants who go to Libya while trying to get to Europe, have no idea that they are bound to become commodities that are meant to be exploited and bought.