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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid