We must not forget the Libyan slaves
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In November 2017 CNN released a video of African migrants sold in underground slave markets in Libya. This sparked outrage across the globe with multiple world leaders expressing their disbelief and stating their determination to put an end to these horrors.
Since efforts by the Libyan coast guard and the Italian government increased to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean, hundreds of thousands of migrants are intercepted in Libya. The migrants, many of them fleeing political persecution or poverty; end up in detention centers in the country. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 1 million men, women, and children are trapped in Libya. Setting the stage for what Libya is today; a trading floor for African lives.
These migrants are subjected to harrowing ordeals in these detention camps. In a September 2017 statement U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said;“We cannot even guess the scale of the abuses inflicted on migrants in all these hidden places, untouched by the rule of law.” The detention centers also serve as distribution points for markets, where migrants are bought and sold on a daily basis.
Some of the abuses include systematic beatings, rape, torture, starvation, modern-day slavery, murder and horrific living conditions. William Lacey Swing (Director General of the International Organization for Migration) after visiting what was described as the" best" Libyan detention camp under government control; described it as a warehouse with no ventilation, no light, very little hygienic facilities and men and women sleeping roughly 6 inches apart.
Why is this petition urgent? Because these people are being slowly forgotten.
When these reports were initially made, a U.N. Security Council meeting (including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley) called for an investigation into the Libyan slave trade, as well as a coordinated U.N. response to help combat the problem. Moreover, African and European leaders met at a summit in the Ivory Coast and agreed on an urgent evacuation plan that would see about 15,000 people flown out of Libya.
Most of the migrants would be sent back to their home countries. Since then, the IOM has succeeded in carrying out the following in Libya: managing to return some thousands of migrants to their homes, many who had spent years in some of Libya’s worst detention camps. However, while this is progress, it is just a drop in the ocean.
• The UN make Libya a priority. Speed up the commencement of the coordinated UN response to combat the problem. This action will require the support of Members of the Security Council especially the USA Ambassador Nikki Haley must give her personal commitment to support this process.
• Push Libyan authorities to close more detention camps and replace them with temporary safe-houses where basic human rights are respected; especially for the most vulnerable i.e. children and women.
• Support IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return assistance; returning migrants home.
• Launch concrete military and policing action in Libya to dismantle the modern day slavery smuggling networks.
• Put pressure on social media to put an end to smugglers using their sites as platforms for the inducing of migrants to "better lives."
• Investigate all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of refugees and migrants in Libya, and ensure that the suspected perpetrators are prosecuted in a transparent and fair trial to put an end to the vicious cycle of abuse.
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