Migrant becoming Slave: The harsh reality of Libya



The number of refugees holed up in Libya has increased to 400,000 to one million.

We may not be waging war against each other but that does not mean our world is free of conflicts, war crimes or the victims.

A video of a slave auction that happened in Libya shocked the world. In a coarse-grained mobile footage, an auctioneer is seen selling a young man, “Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he’ll dig.” Finally, a deal is struck for four hundred dollars (roughly twenty-five thousand rupees).

Another video reported of a human trafficker saying how many of the enslaved refugees are held for ransom or forced into prostitution to pay their captors or smugglers. Others are murdered by smugglers or die in the desert from thirst or accidents.

As the European Union continues to curb migration through Libya, citing security reasons, the number of refugees holed up in Libya has increased to 400,000 to one million. Given that there is no safe alternative legal path for migrants and refugees, the conditions of these people in transit camps have deteriorated to such a level that now, refugees who fail to pay the mafias are sold for money. Leaders of African and European nations decided in a summit to fly 15,000 people out of Libya to their home countries.

 The enslaved refugees are held for ransom or forced into prostitution to pay their captors or smugglers.

There was worldwide outrage against the slave trade, in Paris, Stockholm and New York. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in a statement, said that “Slavery has no place in our world and these actions are amongst the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

The Libyan representative to the UN has promised to crack down hard on ‘perpetrators of sale of human beings’ in a Security Council meeting. Stating that hundreds of thousands of people were transiting through Libya during a very difficult time in its history, he said that Libya must not be held responsible for international problems that it had not caused.

The U.N.-backed Libyan government has initiated a formal investigation into the allegations. But Libya is mainly considered as a failed state.
As Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country for four decades, was ousted in 2011, the country has dived into a civil war. A transitional government failed to implement rule of law in the country, which has splintered into several factions of militias, tribes, and gangs. In the absence of law, many see the slave trade and smuggling as a profit-making industry. People are now questioning how much the Obama administration contributed to the problem with its 2011 intervention in Libya. Obama, in his recent interview, acknowledged the issue before, calling it the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

Lincoln may have abolished slavery in 1863, but even after 150 years, some humans in this world are still struggling to be free and that is something we should all be horrified about.

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