News / Africa

African Migrants in Libya Live in Fear

African migrant workers are seen at a farm where they had been hiding from rebel forces in Tripoli, Libya, August 28, 2011.
African migrant workers are seen at a farm where they had been hiding from rebel forces in Tripoli, Libya, August 28, 2011.

Multimedia

Scott Bobb

Human rights organizations say tens of thousands of African migrants in Libya have been displaced from their homes and jobs by months of fighting between forces loyal to former leader Moammar Gadhafi and the transitional authority that opposes him. Many are living in fear under difficult conditions in makeshift camps.

Tensions are running high at Sidi Blal port where about 1,000 workers from sub-Saharan Africa have taken refuge. Although the fighting in this part of Libya has largely ended, the migrants say they are being threatened by unknown gunmen.

Edmont Okoror, from Edo State, Nigeria, had been washing cars for the past six years until he says gunmen raided his home near Tripoli.

“Our belongings, they took them from us, our money, even our phones,” said Okoror.

Stranded migrants

An estimated 1 million migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were living in Libya before the uprising that ousted long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi. Most of them fled during the five months of fighting, but relief agencies estimate about 100,000 remain.

Aminu Zimbo, from Boku, northern Ghana, said black foreigners seem to be especially targeted by anti-Gadhafi forces. He is not sure why.

“They just came. They are shooting guns. We run. Our passports were in the room. We just escaped. Because they kill lots of Ghanaians there. They kill all blacks. That is why we decided to run,” said Zimbo.

Targeted by rebel forces

Anti-Gadhafi forces have captured hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans who, they say, were caught fighting alongside pro-Gadhafi forces.

Many of these prisoners said they had been offered Libyan citizenship or money to fight for Gadhafi. Others said they had been in prison and were forced to join his side.

But many Libyans see them as mercenaries who participated in the killing of innocent civilians and as a result, black foreigners are now viewed with suspicion.

In addition, some Libyans resent Gadhafi's policy of embracing sub-Saharan countries. He invited their citizens to work in Libya and over the years donated billions of dollars to African governments.

Gadhafi said he wanted to help his brothers and sisters on the continent. But many Libyans believe the main reason was to fulfill his ambition to become the leader of a Pan-African union.

Kris Wagemans works for the Doctors Without Borders relief group that is providing water, food and medical care at this camp. He said the people here come from different backgrounds and experiences, but all are stressed by two main challenges.

“I think they are very worried about security at one part [on the one hand]; second part, living conditions. If you go around the camp you see how they live. For sure this is a main issue,” said Wagemans.

Nigerian ambassador met with hostility

The Nigerian ambassador paid a visit to the camp on Saturday and offered to return his citizens to Nigeria. He was greeted with open hostility by his countrymen. His guards fired into the ground as the crowd shouted him out of the camp.

Nigerian truck driver Fred Binosa said this is because going home is not an option. He said many workers borrowed money to travel here and if they returned home empty-handed they would be at risk. He said the lack of job opportunities in Nigeria is a major factor.

“Why should we go to Nigeria to be suffering the life of before? We just want work, a place where we can rest. Please we are begging you
to help us,” said Binosa.

Some of the migrants in this camp say they would return to their homes in Libya if there is security. But for now, there is nothing to do but wait and hope for better times, or passage to a new life, again.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid