West African migrants being sold as slaves in open markets – UN Agency

Survivors told the IOM that the modern day slave trade had become so normal that people were being sold openly.

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“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” IOM’s Head of Operation and Emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker told The Guardian.

“The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants,” he added.

Many migrants pass through Libya in a bid to enter Europe by boat through the Mediterranean Sea.

One survivor from Senegal said a bus driver, who was meant to smuggle a group of intending migrants to the coast, put his passengers up for sale because the middlemen hadn’t paid his fees.

“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants,” an IOM officer based in Niger, Livia Manante said.

Manante said further that the existence of the open slave markets was confirmed by other migrants whom she interviewed.

“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” Manente said.

“IOM Italy has confirmed that this story is similar to many stories reported by migrants and collected at landing points in southern Italy, including the slave market reports. This gives more evidence that the stories reported are true, as the stories of those who managed to cross-match those who are returning back to their countries,” she added.

Former head of the British Embassy Office in Benghazi, Joseph Walker-Cousins warned, in March ,that more than 1million migrants are ‘in the pipeline’ in Libya hoping to cross to Europe.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.

IOM became an agency of the United Nations in September 2016.

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