Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Libyan Hell

Rising numbers of migrants trapped in Libya are prey to smugglers and traffickers and sold for labour, said the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM), amid a security vacuum created by the 2011 toppling of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Smuggling networks are becoming more organised, stronger, globally," IOM's Libya head Othman Belbeisi told reporters in London. "More and more we are seeing migrants being sold from one smuggler to another ... being contracted for work but not being paid. Traffickers don't need detention centres, they can go on the streets, detain 100 migrants and take them to a farm (to work)," he added. "This is regular business for armed groups." Many people in Libya become smugglers because the networks are well established, unlikely to be dismantled or prosecuted, and due to a lack of other sources of income, Belbeisi added.

And the plight of migrants may worsen as the country struggles with a deepening economic crisis, said Jalel Harchaoui, an associate at North Africa Risk Consulting.

"This erodes whatever scruples some armed groups may have when faced with migrants whose presence they need to monetise," Harchaoui told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that migrants are in greater danger now than two or three years ago. "At sea, migrants die at a higher rate," he added. "And in the desert, there is less information (on the fate of migrants) which means more aberrations and more abuses are possible."

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