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“Everyone knew” that there were migrant sales in Libya, warn NGOs and analysts

Ⓒ AFP – Fadel Senna – | Two men symbolically chain their hands during a demonstration against slavery in Libya, on Thursday, November 23 in Rabat, in front of the Libyan Embassy in Morocco

Denounced by all Western and African leaders, the situation of thousands of African migrants in Libya, raped, tortured and enslaved, has been known for some time, say NGOs and analysts who have been alerting the case for months.

The furtive images of an apparent auction of young Africans in the Tripoli region, in which black men were presented to buyers from North Africa as a possible labor force, were broadcast by CNN on November 14. They spread rapidly on social networks and provoked a wave of global outrage.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said “horrified”, the president of the African Union (AU), Alpha Condé, “outraged” and the European Union, “angry.”

“Hypocrisy”, denounces the Senegalese Hamidou Anne, analyst of the reflection group Africa of the Ideas, since “apart from the simple citizen, everyone knew, the rulers, the international organizations, the political leaders” the situation in Libya.

“The taking of hostages, violence, torture, rape were normal in Libya, and slavery has been talked about for a long time,” insists Alioune Tine, director for West and Central Africa at Amnesty International, based in Dakar

Libya, a country plunged into chaos, has become an important point of passage for countless migrants trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean. Many of them have been victims of traffickers of human beings.

“In Libya, blacks have no right,” Karamo Keita, a 27-year-old young Gambian, was re-sent to his country in September. “We were transferred to several farms where our Libyan jailer sold us as slaves.”

– ‘Torture and extortion’ –

For their part, migrant aid organizations have been warning for some time about the degradation of the situation.

Since April, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the existence of “slave markets” in Libya. “They become merchandise to buy, sell and dispose of when they are no longer worth anything,” Leonard Doyle, an IOM spokesperson in Geneva, said.

The president of Doctors Without Borders, Joanne Liu, also denounced in September, in an open letter to European governments, “a prosperous company on kidnapping, torture and extortion” in Libya.

“In your efforts to contain the flow (migratory), European governments will be willing to assume the price of rape, torture and slavery?” He warned. “We can not say we did not know,” he said at the time.

Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, denounced the deterioration of the conditions of detention of migrants in this country, describing as “inhuman” the policy of the EU that consists “in help the Libyan coastguard intercept and forward the migrants. ”

An accusation rejected by Brussels, which highlights its efforts to “save lives” at sea and “facilitate access by IOM and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to detention centers in Libya so that it can increase the level of assistance and organize voluntary returns. ”

For Alioune Tine, Europe “has a fundamental responsibility” in the current disaster, but it is not the only one. “The African countries do not do anything to retain the young people, to give them work, they do not have a migration policy, they just have to put up with it,” he laments.

“This can not last longer: in the face of a crime against humanity we can not be indignant, we have to act”, considers Hamidou Anne, criticizing the passivity of the African leaders and the “systematic racism in the countries of the Maghreb”.

Alioune Tine proposes that the issue to eradicate slavery be addressed at the summit between the EU and the AU, to be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan.

“An impartial commission of inquiry is needed to see how this contraband is organized, who is responsible, and that everyone assumes their responsibilities,” he concludes.

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