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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid