Afrika Youth Movement releases statement on slavery in Libya

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Nations and movements around the world continues to condemn the harsh conditions that prevails on migrants in Libya, as the world’s most energetic but yet poor and vulnerable cohort of youth as migrants and refugees in the African desert nation are being abused and auctioned off as slaves.

The latest youth movement to condemn the act is Afrika Youth Movement, a youth grouping responsible for all youth affairs in the African continent. The movement currently released a statement condemning the current slavery in Libya.

In December, pictures and live videos of tortured and strangled migrants, claiming to be carried out in Libya were shared and trending on Facebook and WhatsApp social media with blood stains all over their bodies and clothes. It is alleged that hundreds of people are being sold in modern day slave markets in Libya for as little as $400.

The youth movement says some African migrants are forced to leave their homes and countries because of dishonest governance, corruption, violation of human rights, poverty and economic deprivation. “Migration is an expensive exercise and not everyone can afford it.”

They said those with limited means have chosen long and life threatening means of movement, saying there are two groups of people caught up in the crisis; migrants- those who seek for greener pastures and refugees- those fleeing from conflict in their countries. “For the past three years, more than 150,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Europe from Libya with the hope to adapt a new life.” This is a treacherous journey that led to the loss of lives of more than 3000 people (CNN report).

Slavery in Libya is a result of detaining migrants who wished to travel to Europe through North Africa.

In 2015, the European Union set up a fund to pay for tight border control in Libya which aimed at preventing African migrants and refugees using Libya as a migration route to Europe. This measure helped reduce the rate of migrants crossing into Europe by 20% but those who are detained in Libya ended up into slavery. Up to 700,000 migrants are trapped in detention camps across Libya.

International Organization for Migrants (IOM) conducted an investigation which revealed that these migrants are held for ransoms as they are being forced to call their families who are asked to pay for their release.

Those who cannot pay are either killed or left to starve to death by their captors or sold as slaves. Women and children are the most susceptible to be exploited on the perilous journey as they are sexually abused and forced into prostitution.

CNN released a video captured by a journalist which shows slave traders bidding for slaves at $400 each. 12 African migrants were purchased at an undisclosed location outside the capital city of Tripoli.

According to Médecins Sans Frontières, people are simply treated as commodities to be exploited. They are packed into dark, filthy rooms with no ventilation, living on top of one another.

Rwanda has pledged to take 30,000 African migrants from Libya offering assistance and shelter. News Agency of Nigeria reports that thousands of Nigerians have been flown back home from Libya with the help of IOM.

“We, the members of Africa Youth Movement, home and diaspora, representing 10,000 members from 40 African countries, echo our united voices that paint the picture of what we desire for ourselves, for the future generations and the continent as a whole,” the youth movement stated in the release.

Demands

The youth movement also made several demands, including honest, good governance, infrastructural and sustainable development, job creation and youth empowerment from African leaders and a demand for leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles in the response to refugee and migration challenge from European states.

They also demanded for increased safe and legal channels into EU to reduce demand for smuggling and dangerous journeys and sharing responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees equitably. “We demand for designing, implementing, monitoring and reporting publicly on EU migration cooperation arrangements with African countries to ensure that the cooperation does not trap people in abusive situations, prevent them from accessing fair asylum procedures or lead to refoulement as it is the case in Libya.”

            The movement demand for a migration cooperation with Libyan authorities, including the training of Libyan Coast Guard and Navy officers, strong human rights component with monitoring and accountability for any abuses and transparent monitoring of conditions and treatment in Libyan detention centers to ensure that they meet basic standards. “The ongoing slave trade in Libya is a crime against humanity. No human should be deprived of their dignity.

Much more, resources should be channeled towards empowerment of Africans and  enslaving them.”