This week, CNN released a video containing footage of sub-Saharan migrants being sold at auction in Libya. Libya is a transit country for tens of thousands of migrants who are fleeing their home countries due to economic or political conflict. Most try to make their way to Europe in search of better opportunities, selling everything they own to finance the journey across the Mediterranean. Recently, however, the Libyan coast guard has been more strictly reinforcing their boundaries. This means that fewer ships are making it out to sea. As a result, smugglers are finding themselves with vast amounts of human lives and nowhere to send them. That has led to smugglers becoming auctioneers, and the refugees their slaves.
The slave trade in Libya is not new. In many seemingly ordinary towns throughout the country, migrants wait in solemn lines to be sold into their fates. Most are being auctioned off as farm workers, going for the US equivalent of around $400. While waiting to be deported, many migrants are kept in detention centers. One interview from CNN recounts the horrors that some migrants face. One detained migrant named Victory explained that he had fled his home state of Edo, in Nigeria, to flee “rampant corruption” at home. He spent all of his life savings trying to reach Europe. Victory made it to Libya, and was held there like many other migrants; sadly, they are held in abject living conditions, deprived of food and abused by their captors. Even after being sold as a day laborer multiple times, he could not raise the funds to free himself from debt. This is only one story out of hundreds of migrants and refugees that have been held in the Libyan slave trade.
According to the Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, they will “use all of the tools at their disposal” to look into the situation. The evidence filmed by CNN has been handed over to Libyan authorities. CNN reports that, as of Friday, December 1, Libya has launched an investigation into the slave trade.
By Rachel Smith
Sources: BBC, CNN
Photo provided by AFP/Getty Images