News / Africa

Thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans in Hiding in Libya

A Nigerian migrant worker who fled the unrest in Libya waits at the Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir, March 3, 2011
A Nigerian migrant worker who fled the unrest in Libya waits at the Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir, March 3, 2011
Joe DeCapua

Thousands of sub-Saharan Africans may be too scared to leave Libya. That’s according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which said it is “increasingly concerned over the fate of vulnerable migrants.”

The IOM has been evacuating migrants from Tripoli by boat and giving them safe passage to Benghazi.

“We’ve noticed that in our three missions,” said IOM spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe, “very few sub-Saharan Africans have managed to come to the port and board our vessels. So we are really concerned. And of course we have a team on the ground now. They report to us that sub-Saharan Africans, in particular, are so afraid to get out because of all the barriers and roadblocks and because of the stories that they have been targeted.”

Targeted?

Since the beginning of the Libyan conflict, there have been reports and rumors that sub-Saharan Africans had been hired by Moammar Gadhafi as mercenaries.

“So they are holed up in various areas and unable to come to the port to board our vessels,” Jumbe said.

As for the rumors, Jumbe said they are still circulating. “We cannot confirm or deny them. Although those migrants who reached Tunisia and other border areas, they told us stories…that they have been targeted. Some of them have been mistreated, maltreated even, particularly along the road when they were fleeing. Most of them have lost their possessions.”

Guesstimates

It remains unclear just how many sub-Saharan Africans remain in Libya.

“We don’t know for sure how many there are. The reason is many of those, particularly from neighboring countries – that is Niger, Mali and other countries – reached Libya in an irregular manner. I mean they have not registered. Some of them have no passport. And because of that they did not obviously go to their embassies to register themselves for fearing that (it) may be negative to them,” he said.

The IOM estimates before the conflict began, there were as many as one million sub-Saharan workers in Libya.

“With all those whom we have evacuated, we are still thinking that thousands of them are still in Libya, maybe 100,000, 200,000. I can’t tell. But thousands of them are still holed up in Libya.

What to do?

The IOM is negotiating with the new authority in Libya, the National Transitional Council, to gain access to the migrants.

“We know that most of them live in the suburbs of Tripoli in private farms, some of them,” he said. For example, on one farm, an IOM team found about 70 migrants, many of them Nigerian.

“They told our team that there are about 450 of their friends and relatives around that area. Many of these are young men, but there are those with families,” he said.

Since evacuating sub-Saharan migrants by boat has so far been unsuccessful, the IOM is also considering evacuating them by road.

“We are thinking seriously about road evacuation because that is cheaper, first, for us and also it is much safer. Because we can just go to the areas where they are, pick them up in our buses and off we go,” said Jumbe.

Before fighting reached Tripoli, there had been evacuations by land.

“These were largely organized by the diplomatic missions,” he said, “but not sub-Saharan African countries. So this time we want to do the evacuation, road evacuation, by ourselves, with IOM buses.”

Meanwhile, the IOM has so far evacuated about 1600 people from Tripoli in three separate boat missions. But it says there’s a growing sentiment among some migrants that the situation in the country is growing more stable, so they’ve chosen to remain in Libya.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid