Libyan embassy dissociates itself from slavery reports

01Dec 2017
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
Libyan embassy dissociates itself from slavery reports

THE Libyan embassy in Dar es Salaam yesterday denied fast-spreading international reports of west African migrants being sold in the country as slaves, asserting that what is actually happening is not ‘slavery’ but human trafficking.

It also absolved any government responsibility for what it described as “the work of international human trafficking syndicates” taking advantage of a deteriorating state of security in the country.

Embassy charge d’affaires Saleh Kusa Arze told a press conference in the city that Libya as a country has become overwhelmed by a mass influx of runaways from other African nations in recent years, which is difficult to control because of the country’s own uncertain political situation.

“There are global human trafficking cartels operating from both the countries where the migrants originate, and their destination countries. Therefore there is a need for the international community to support Libya with technical and logistical assistance in controlling its southern border, which is the main route for migrants looking to cross the Mediterranean Sea,” Arze said.

He added that the Libya government is already helping a huge number of migrants who were abandoned by the traffickers within the country, and called for coordinated efforts with the nations where the emigrants are coming from.

Reports of hundreds of west African migrants being sold in modern-day slave markets operating in Libya on a weekly basis have been hogging international headlines for the past few days.

The ‘slave’ candidates - most of them from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Gambia and Sudan – are said to be smuggled into Libya by international criminal networks on the promise of being shipped right across into Europe.

It is also reported that most of the migrants end up being murdered by their smugglers once in the country, or die from thirst in the vast Libyan desert.

Libya is widely recognized as the main gateway for African runaways attempting to reach Europe by sea, with more than 150,000 attempting the deadly crossing in each of the past three years.

The current political instability in Libya is seen as linked to the Arab Spring protests of 2011, which led to the first civil war, foreign military intervention, and the ousting and death of revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The civil war's aftermath and proliferation of armed groups triggered violence across the country, resulting in the eruption of a new civil war in 2014. The ongoing crisis in Libya has so far claimed casualties in the tens of thousands.