News / Africa

    African Migrants Suffering Abuse in Libya Repatriated

    FILE - African migrants rest after their rescue by the Libyan Coast Guard west of Tripoli, Dec. 21, 2015. The International Organization for Migration says it is scaling up the repatriation of African migrants suffering abuse and exploitation in Libya, mainly at the hands of the police and the militias.
    FILE - African migrants rest after their rescue by the Libyan Coast Guard west of Tripoli, Dec. 21, 2015. The International Organization for Migration says it is scaling up the repatriation of African migrants suffering abuse and exploitation in Libya, mainly at the hands of the police and the militias.
    Lisa Schlein

    The International Organization for Migration said it is scaling up the repatriation of African migrants suffering abuse and exploitation in Libya, mainly at the hands of the police and the militias.

    Over the past few months, the International Organization for Migration reports it has repatriated thousands of Africans from Libya, mainly to Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal.

    In its latest operation a few days ago, IOM returned 117 migrants to Burkina Faso, including five women and two children.

    IOM spokesman Itayi Viriri said the migrants told stories of horrific treatment by militias and blatant exploitation at their places of employment. He said many young men spoke about working for weeks on end for no pay.

    FILE - African migrants look through bars of a locked door at Sabratha migrant detention center for men in Sabratha, Libya, October 2013.
    FILE - African migrants look through bars of a locked door at Sabratha migrant detention center for men in Sabratha, Libya, October 2013.

    “We do have examples of young men who were working in construction who, every time they got paid, they were raided – their accommodation was raided by militias who took whatever money they had. There was no one to then go and try and get redress or try and get these obvious crimes investigated," Viriri said.

    Vulnerable population

    A recent United Nations report found migrants in Libya are vulnerable to exploitation and human rights violations by authorities, armed groups and smugglers.

    It said many migrants have been subjected to long periods of arbitrary detention, to torture, forced labor, extortion and other forms of abuse.

    Viriri told VOA that IOM has received testimony from African migrants of being beaten up and threatened with other forms of inhumane treatment.

    “A few cases where people were abducted with the expectation that ransom would be paid. So, here we have one young man who said if they are arrested in Libya or taken in by these militias, they are expected to pay the equivalent of $700,” he said.

    Viriri said most of the migrants evacuated from Libya over the past year were new arrivals. He said they came to IOM voluntarily asking for help to return home because they found their situation to be untenable.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    February 28, 2016 1:59 PM
    The problems caused by overpopulation, lack of food and water, unemployment are not going to be solved by people claiming asylum here or there. There is no place to run to. If people won't control their birth rates, nature has cruel ways of fixing the problem.
    In Response

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    February 29, 2016 11:52 AM
    Your comment is off the point. With good reason, you are simply trying to disguise the really issue with nonsense topics such as overpopulation, lack of food etc. The really point is how black people are treated in Libya and elsewhere. It's racism! racism! and racism period! Pakistanis, Koreans, Indians, Jews and Chinese are all in Libya working and are treated humanly, no abuse, no discrimination. In the Middle East, I promise, you will be treated nicely provide that you are not black!

    In Response

    by: Paul from: Belgium
    February 29, 2016 8:00 AM
    The article is about labour exploitation. None of these guys claimed asylum in Libya. They went, got jobs, and now the situation is difficult for them so they are being supported returning home. "Overpopulation" has nothing to do with how you are treated in the workplace or by out of control militia. Your comment is pretty much irrelevant in this case.

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