Last week, the world watched in dismay as CNN aired a live recording of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya. It was sickening and painful to watch young African men being traded like animals, some for as little as $400.
The international broadcaster also reported witnessing slave auctions at nine different locations across Libya, some of which are said to be controlled by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).
In the damning investigative piece, reporter Nima Elbagir said she witnessed 12 men, most of them from Niger, being sold off to slave masters in a matter of minutes.
“Buyers raise their hands as the price rises, 500, 550, 600, 650… Within minutes it is all over and the men, utterly resigned to their fate, are being handed over to their new masters,” the CNN reported.
Worst Forms of Abuse
Most of these victims are refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa on transit to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. Every year, thousands of migrants pour across the Libyan borders with the hope of crossing over to Europe.
Unfortunately, many of them do not make it to Europe as they are either detained in Libya or drown in the Mediterranean Sea when their flimsy dinghies disintegrate and sink. Over the last three years, tens of thousands of African migrants have died en route to Europe, with a significant number of them being women and children.
A few weeks ago, bodies of 26 Nigerian women, most of them teenagers, were found floating in the Mediterranean Sea after the boat they were travelling in capsized. Reports indicate that the girls may have been victims of sexual trafficking.
Sadly, these horrendous atrocities are happening in the full glare of the international community. In fact, the European Union has been accused of aiding Libyan authorities in arresting and detaining migrants in Libya.
Just last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad slammed the EU for its migration policy, which he said is condemning thousands of migrants to their fate in Libya.
According to Zeid, the EU captures migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and hands them over to Libyan authorities, where they are tortured, raped, sold as slaves and killed. Following the explosive report by the CNN, Libyan authorities have launched investigations into the slave trade racket.
But many experts have already expressed their doubts about the seriousness of the investigation since some of the authorities conducting the inquiry have been adversely mentioned in the report.
Regardless of the outcome, a time has come for both African and international leaders to find a lasting solution to the migration crisis in Libya. No more lives should be lost in the perilous journey to Europe.