In Libya, A Nigerian migrant sells for N145,000 in slave market

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Many immigrants trying to sneak in Europe are trapped in Libya's brutal human trafficking world

A Nigerian migrant is worth
N145,000 ($400) in one of Libya’s thriving slave markets that takes
advantage of Africans trying to flee to Europe. According
to an investigation by US television network, CNN, a lot of desperate
migrants from sub-Saharan Africa trying to get into Europe through the
Mediterranean are exploited by smugglers when they make a required stop
in the North Africa nation.

In a video obtained by CNN, three men were auctioned off to a buyer as “big strong boys for farm work” and were sold for $400 apiece.

The
men, one of them identified as a Nigerian, are victims of a growing
industry of slave markets operating in several locations in Libya.

How the modern slave trade works in Libya

Libya
has been a hotbed for illegal migrants for years now as it serves as
the transit hub to the Mediterranean which connects to Europe. Every
year, migrants embark on the perilous journey across the sea to escape
the economic and/or political uncertainties in their countries of
origin.

According to Missing Migrants, an
organization that tracks deaths along migratory routes, at least 2,985
people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa or
the Middle East in 2017 alone.

However, this has not stopped people from trying to make the journey into Europe to seek greener pastures.

African migrants in a boat on the Mediterranean

African migrants in a boat on the Mediterranean

(Answers Africa)

A
government crackdown on trafficking has resulted in a drastic reduction
in boat journeys which means many are trapped in Libya for a long time
waiting for their turn to travel. The migrants are mostly held in
connecting houses or detention centres that the smugglers control.

This
creates a situation where smugglers are able to exploit the migrants,
especially as soon as they run out of money to pay which means they’re
viewed as properties.

Since most
smuggling rings are run by local organised gangs, militias and corrupt
security officials in Libya, many victims are trapped in unfamiliar
surroundings with captors who are not shy to resort to violent means.

Smugglers
are known to blackmail migrants into doing free labour or outrightly
selling them to other militias involved in human trafficking. Other
times, they hold migrants for ransom and call their families to pay
while issuing threats to kill them.

Female migrants are in more danger of being used as sex slaves especially if they don’t have anything to pay their captors.

Migrants treated like animals in Libya

21-year-old Victory, a Nigerian migrant from Edo State,
told CNN about how he was repeatedly sold by his smugglers to engage in
forced labour for his buyers who brutalised him alongside many others.

Victory is a victim of trafficking in Libya

Victory is a victim of trafficking in Libya

(CNN)

According to him, he was also held for ransom, while his mother in Nigeria “went to a couple villages, borrowing money” to save his life.

Before
he ended up in a migrant detention centre, Victory revealed that he had
spent more than N1 million trying to cross the sea into Europe.

He told CNN, “I
was sold on my way coming here. As I was sold they demanded a ransom.
The pusher man that pushed me from Nigeria, I gave him money but he did
not pay. So they said since he did not pay that money, they now sold me.

“From
a week, they’ll start beating you so that your money will come quickly
so I was there for eight months before I could pay my money and I went
out.

“If you look at most of the
people here, if you check their bodies, you’ll see the marks. They’re
beaten with electric cables. Even your butthole they shoot up a sharp
object. Most of them lost their lives there.

“Going
back home now, I’m totally frustrated. I don’t know where to start from
because I spent my life savings leaving the country (Nigeria).”

Other migrants such as Ivorien, Moussa Sanogo, said the Libyan captors who were Arabs viewed black-skinned migrants as “nothing but animals” and treated them as such.

He said “They
are buying you. You’re there, you have been arrested, you see they are
judging your price like merchandise. They bought you and you’re going to
work… like a slave. I would not wish it on my enemy.”

Cameroonian migrant, Maxime Ndong, said that migrants who resisted the oppression of their Libyan captors were sometimes shot to death.

According
to the CNN investigation, there are usually one to two auctions every
month in at least nine known locations across Libya with many more
unknown.

Global outrage

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the slave auction footage as “the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

It has also been condemned by Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig, Guinean President and African Union (AU) Chairman, Alpha Conde, Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, and the Senegalese government.

Burkina Faso also recalled its ambassador to Libya with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore demanding information from the Libyan government about the fate of some 30 Burkinabe migrants detained in the camps.

Nigeria’s reaction

President Muhammadu Buhari‘s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa condemned the slave auction in a press statement on Monday, November 20, 2017.

She described it as “totally
unacceptable, despicable, and inhumane and should be condemned by
anyone who is human and has blood running through their veins.”

Although
unrelated to the slave auction tape, while speaking at an international
conference on “Women Empowerment and the Fight Against Trafficking in
Persons: Partnership Between Nigeria and Italy”, on Tuesday, November
21, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, charged the international community to employ effective tactics to combat the scourge of human trafficking.

He said “The
Mediterranean has today become the world’s biggest cemetery leaving
deep wounds on humanity’s conscience that will over a period of time
produce historical scars to serve as a testimony to the ineptitude of
our generation in dealing with this problem.”

26 Nigerians dead at sea

Dogara’s tough words came in the wake of the 26 Nigerian girls and women who were allegedly sexually abused and murdered while trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe earlier in November.

The victims were buried in Salerno,
Italy on Friday, November 17, after autopsies revealed there was no
recent trace of physical or sexual violence. Most of the dead victims
are teenagers aged 14 to 18 and two of them were pregnant.

Some of the Nigerian survivors of the shipwreck

Some of the Nigerian survivors of the shipwreck

(Vanguard)

Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked at the southern port of Salerno on Sunday, November 5, carrying 375 survivors and the dead women kept in a refrigerated section of the warship.

The
bodies of the victims were recovered from two separate shipwrecks, 23
from one and three from the other, after rescue operations by Cantabria
which works as part of the European Union‘s Sophia anti-trafficking operation.

Italian security authorities have already arrested two men in connection with the deaths.

The two men, named as Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar, from Libya, and Egyptian Mohamed Ali Al Bouzid,
have been charged by investigators after they were identified by
survivors as the captains of one of the boats where the victims died.

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