Africans migrate, forced to leave their home because of; dishonest governance, corruption, violation of human rights, poverty and economic deprivation etc. Migration is an expensive exercise and not everyone can afford it. Those with limited means have chosen long and life threatening means of movement. There are two groups of people caught up in this crisis. Migrants; those who seek for greener pastures and refugees; those fleeing from conflicts in their countries. For the past three years, more than 150,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Europe from Libya in hopes of making their way into a new life. It is a treacherous journey which have led to more than 3000 people drowning (CNN report).
Slavery in Libya is a result of detaining migrants who wish to travel to Europe through North Africa. In 2015, the European Union set up a fund to pay for tight border control in Libya which aimed at preventing African migrants and refugees using Libya as a migration route to Europe. This measure helped reduce migrant crossing into Europe by 20% but those who are detained in Libya ended up in slavery. Up to 700,000 migrants are trapped in detention camps across Libya.
International Organization for Migrants (IOM) carried out an investigation which reveals that these migrants are held for ransoms as they are being forced to call their families who are asked to pay for their release.
Those who cannot pay are either killed or left to starve to death by their captors or sold as slaves. Women and children are the most susceptible to be exploited on the perilous journey as they are sexually abused and forced into prostitution. CNN released a video captured by a journalist which shows slave traders bidding for slaves at $400 each. 12 African migrants were purchased at an undisclosed location outside the capital city of Tripoli.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières, “People are simply treated as a commodity to be exploited. They are packed into dark, filthy rooms with no ventilation, living on top of one another”
Rwanda has pledged to take 30,000 African migrants from Libya. Offering assistance and shelter. News Agency of Nigeria reports that thousands of Nigerians have been flown back home from Libya with the help of the IOM.
We, the members of the Afrika Youth Movement, home and diaspora, representing 10,000 members from 40 African countries, echo our united voices that paint the picture of what we desire for ourselves, for future generations and the continent as a whole.
We demand from African Leaders;
- Honest and good governance
- Infrastructural and sustainable development
- Job creation
- Youth empowerment
- Immediate evacuation of detained migrants and refugees in Libya
- Rehabilitation of victims
- and an end to the war in Libya, violence in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
We Demand from European member states;
- Leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles in the response to refugee and migration challenges
- Increased safe and legal channels into the EU to reduce demand for smuggling and dangerous journeys and sharing responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees equitably
- Designing, implementing, monitoring and reporting publicly on EU migration cooperation arrangements with African countries to ensure this cooperation does not trap people in abusive situations, prevent them from accessing fair asylum procedures, or lead to refoulement as it is the case in Libya
- Ensuring that migration cooperation with Libyan authorities, including the training of Libyan Coast Guard and Navy officers, has a strong human rights component, with monitoring and accountability for any abuses and transparent monitoring of conditions and treatment in Libyan detention centers to ensure that they meet basic standards. The EU should suspend the training program
The ongoing slave trade in Libya is a crime against humanity. No human should be deprived of their dignity. Much more resources should be channeled towards empowerment of Africans not enslaving them.