Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. It may include providing a spouse in the aspect of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues, this is a crime against humanity. Prior to now we have always been told that the core victims are women and children but with what is happening today in Libya it is obviously clear that human trafficking is no respecter of gender.
Libya is the main gateway for people attempting to reach Europe by sea, with over 150, 000 people making the deadly crossing each year for the past three years. Refugees and migrants from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Sudan, and Gambia are smuggled or get themselves smuggled into Libya by a network of criminal gangs on the promise of reaching European shores.
International organization for migration (IOM) interviewed migrants from West African countries who recounted being traded in garages and car parks in Sabha, one of Libya’s main people smuggling centres. One Senegalese migrant who was held in a private house in Sabha with some other 100 migrants recounted how they were beaten up and forced to call their families to arrange money for their release. Oftentimes the migrants will be sold off to another Libyan who will set a new price for their release, some who cannot pay their captors are reportedly killed or left to starve to death and when migrants die or are released, new set of migrants are purchased to replace them.
A trafficker explained to Al Jazeera reporter that his “business” has increased several fold since the fall of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. He said the refugees are first introduced to the traffickers by private labour offices in the cities of Agadez and Zinder in neighbouring Niger. The trafficker Salman said once he receives wire transfer for the refugees from a “commander” in Niger, he starts the transportation process and charges between 1000 ($735) and 1500 ($1100) Libyan dinars per person. He went on to narrate that he picks up migrants from al-Qatron (in Libya) and transports them to Sebha. Al-Qatron is a small town about 300km south of Sebha and close to the Nigerian border and is the starting point for many of the thousands of migrants that enter Libya every year.
Some Libyans narrated how they’ve at one time or the other witnessed some women being forced into prostitution and those women couldn’t help themselves as they’re trapped in Libya. The trafficking and inhuman treatment going on in Libya as seen is not a story that just popped up but a horror that has been there for long just that social media advantageously brought the dreadful act to limelight. After the cut are short clip from the dreadful act, viewers discretion please. The ugly bitter experience of some survivors declare Libya a stay clear coast, as for me it is better to stay in Nigeria or your own country and face whatever hardship you see there than to convey yourself to a place of unspeakable horror.
Below is a clip of survivors narrating their horrible experience. Video credit: TV360