IOM: African migrants sold in modern-day slave markets in Libya

Gambian migrants returning home from Libya carry bags from UN agency the International Organization for Migration. Photograph: Luc Gnago/Reuters

The UN International Organization of Migration (IOM), has revealed that west African illegal migrants are being traded in open slave markets in Libya.

Libya has become a major crossing points for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe. Many of those migrants who come from Africa with no money and documentation fall prey to human traffickers and end up being smuggled to these modern-day slave centers.

According to IOM, the local aid organizations are involved in luring the migrants. A Senegalese migrant’s testimony to an IOM employee states that after the sale, the migrant workers are taken to makeshift prisons. The captives are made to work with no remuneration and meager meals and the captives’ families are often called and threatened for a ransom of around 300,000 west African francs, or US$472. If the demands are not met, the captives are sent to a larger prison and those who have been around too long are often killed by their captors.

Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies told the Guardian, “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, illegal immigration has caused the death of thousands of people trying to cross lawless Libyan shores and reach Europe on dinghies and shaky boats.

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