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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid