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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs