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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora