Home / News / Libya Is Home to a 21st-Century Slave Market and the UN Security Council Won’t Act

Libya Is Home to a 21st-Century Slave Market and the UN Security Council Won’t Act


BENGHAZI – LIBYA – APRIL 14, 2012: People vital in the camps since of the Civil War on Apr 14, 2012 in Benghazi – Libya
Photo Credit: thomas koch/Shutterstock


CNN recently aired a absolute report from Libya, where the reporters went into a residence and shot footage of an auction of human beings. Yes, this is a 21st-century worker market. The reporters – Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt and Bryony Jones – brought to the world’s courtesy something grotesque: justification of how terrible the conditions is these days not only in Libya, but also in the Sahel segment of Africa. Their story evoked a clever summary from the Manchester United midfielder, Paul Pogba, who wrote on Twitter, ‘my prayers go to those pang labour in #Libya. May Allah be by your side and may this cruelty come to an end!’ So far, there has been no such greeting from David Cameron (former Prime Minister of the UK), Nikolas Sarkozy (former President of France) and Barack Obama (former President of the United States). The 3 of them – as leaders of NATO – engineered the drop of Libya in 2011. What we see now is the detritus of NATO’s policy.

In the last years of Obama’s presidency, he mostly referred to the ‘mistakes in Libya’ – in 2015, he bemoaned the ‘leadership vacuum’ combined after the overpower of the Qaddafi regime and in 2016, he pronounced that the issue of the NATO fight was the ‘worst mistake’ of his presidency. Obama told Chris Wallace last year that while he still suspicion the NATO fight was the ‘right thing to do,’ he felt that ‘failing to devise for the day after’ was the catastrophe. Libya, Obama said, is a ‘mess.’

We could discuss possibly the NATO fight was indeed the right thing to do. After all, the French barrage of Libya, which began before the US bombardment, came just when a high-level group with management from the African Union was prepared to leave Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) for Tripoli (Libya) to hold a discourse with Qaddafi and his leadership. This was circumvented. All probable ways to finish the dispute were not exhausted. Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama – with the Gulf Arab monarchs – were fervent to get into this war. Obama did not, at that time, contend anything about formulation for the day after. we interviewed many people in the US administration and in the NATO countries, nothing of whom suggested any perplexity on the partial of the NATO countries about what would occur after Qaddafi was private from power. It was the critics of the fight who warned these NATO leaders about the future of Libya. Of course, they did not listen (as they did not listen to critics of the 2003 Iraq War).

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Fortress Europe

The drop of Libya non-stop the doorway to the mass emigration of hapless people from along the belt of executive Africa, from Guinea to Eritrea. Chaos in Libya allowed the smugglers of human beings to activate old networks and bring people to the Libyan shoreline. From there, these refugees were placed on boats for the hazardous channel of the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands of people have died in this crossing, just as some-more thousands were means to arrive in Europe and find some form of shelter. It was this attainment of the refugees that mostly worried Europe’s managers rather than possibly the extinction of mercantile life in the Global South or the drop of Libya’s state. Europe hyperventilated about the ‘invasion’ of these refugees onto its primitive shores.

Attempts by European governments and the European Union to retard the migrants from making the channel came tough and fast. From 2015, the European Union set up a inhuman try to stop the boats from leaving Libyan waters (as good as to spin back boats on the high seas). A Jul 2017 Amnesty International Report – A ideal storm: The disaster of European policies in the Central Mediterranean – shows that the ban efforts by the European Union on the high seas has only increasing the threats to the migrants. ‘The evident means for the rising death toll,’ writes the Amnesty researchers, ‘is that the conditions in which refugees and migrants have been done to cranky the sea have deteriorated.’ This is a outcome of the ‘reckless European strategy’ to stop the interloper and migrant journey. A Human Rights Watch report from Aug amplifies these findings.

Away from the plain light of day, the European Union and the European governments have attempted to change their limit southwards from the northern Mediterranean to the southern belt of the Sahara Desert. The 2015 European Agenda on Migration, the 2015 Valletta Agreement between the European Union and several African states and the EUCAP-SAHEL Niger Mission have sent European supports to the countries of the Sahel from Mali to Chad to retard the refugees and migrants from their northward journey. The International Organisation of Migration found that these European-funded measures have done ‘migration routes some-more dangerous in the brief term as smugglers and migrants take longer roads to by-pass confidence checks.’

It is transparent to both migrants and to UN officials that the increasing confidence measures in the Sahel has not stopped the tour of people, but increasing the financial and human costs of the journey. Unknown numbers of people are failing in the desert. ‘The dried is a incomparable tomb than the Mediterranean,’ has turn a aphorism among refugees. ‘Because the dried is so vast,’ pronounced Olivia Headon of the International Organisation of Migration, ‘it is tough to know how many people are actually failing en route.’ Death is one partial of the journey.

The other is bribery. Security forces, bolstered by hundreds of millions of euros from the European Union, have increasing the bribes required to make the hazardous tour opposite the Sahara. The Monday procession of the ‘double cabin Hilux’ (the 4×4 wagons) leaves Agadez (Niger) for Sabha (Libya), channel Dirkou, Dao Timi, Madama and Séguédine – at any indicate EU-backed forces collect bribes from the migrants and refugees.

During Qaddafi’s tenure, the Tummo limit post that divided Niger from Libya used to be heavily manned and tough to get through. It is now open. Guards are not always visible. It creates the run to Sabha, Libya’s gateway to the Sahara, easy and then it is a true drive up to Tripoli. Even with Fortress Europe deploying its full weight on the Sahara and in the Mediterranean, in other words, refugees and migrants can get to Libya.

Tears of Salt

Vincent Cochetel of the UN Refugee Agency recently pronounced in Niger that the drop of the Libyan state has combined ‘a appurtenance that destroys humans.’ It is since of NATO’s fight that the Libyan gateway non-stop and the refugees poured in. It is since of that fight that Europe is now building its moats serve and serve inside the African continent. It is since of that fight that thousands of migrants and refugees are now trapped inside Libya – the ‘machine that destroys humans.’

European income has not stopped the migrants from leaving Niger for Libya. A few arrests here and there of smugglers have only done them take some-more dangerous routes and have only increasing the bribes to the confidence forces. European and Libyan seashore ensure boats have indeed done the traffic opposite the Mediterranean. Those twenty thousand migrants and refugees who are stranded in Libya have possibly entered the shade universe of the subterraneous Libyan economy, been held in what Pope Francis called ‘concentration camps,’ or been truly hapless to be sole in worker auctions.

An Italian alloy who works on the island of Lampedusa (Italy), Pietro Bartolo has combined a book – Lacrime di sale (Tears of Salt) – in which he papers the condition of those migrants and refugees who do make it to European shores. They are not only ‘skin and bones,’ but they show ‘signs of woe – gunshots, electric shocks, burns, lashing, skinning – brutal and unsuitable things.’ This woe has not taken place in the worker auctions, but in the apprehension centers, the thoroughness camps, that are in the plain light of day.

Horror in greeting to the CNN report is one thing. Clarity is another. This May, the arch prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda came before the UN Security Council. She done a blunt report on the conditions in Libya and mentioned the ‘credible accounts that Libya has turn a marketplace for the trafficking of human beings.’ Bensouda wanted to dilate her ambit from the review of crimes by Qaddafi-era officials to crimes in the post-Qaddafi era. NATO countries that prosecuted the fight in 2011 were reluctant to concede the review to widen.

When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saw the CNN report he said, ‘Slavery has no place in the universe and these actions are among the many gross abuses of human rights and may volume to crimes against humanity.’ But Guterres did not contend anything about who combined the conditions for these crimes to be so plainly committed. He would have had to indicate his finger at Europe and to the United States. No such finger was raised.

Graffiti in Lampedusa reads – Proteggere le Persone, Non i Confini (Protect People, Not Borders). That view has a much deeper critique of the universe than the high dignified tongue of the UN. It points its finger at a universe economy that has bankrupt people, at the interloper predicament engendered by misery and war, at the NATO fight that broken Libya and at the way in which Europe has motionless to use military force rather than care against the victims of misery and war. The voice of that graffiti is much clearer than the voice from the UN Security Council.

Vijay Prashad is the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books (leftword.com) and the Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is the author of 20 books, the many new being The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution(University of California Press, 2016). His columns seem at AlterNet every Wednesday.



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