Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
6 Dec 2017
6:05 am

Libya slave trade ignored by governments

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Protest planned as ‘nobody does anything about it’.

Tens of thousands of West Africans trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe are being kidnapped and sold into a covert slave trade based in Tripoli, Libya – but governments have kept mum on the situation.

According to human rights activists, about 35 camps, each with thousands of captive migrants, were cesspools of unspeakable crimes against humanity, where men, women and children are tortured, beaten and sold.

While footage recently obtained and broadcast by CNN garnered the attention of authorities, including the African Union (AU), Marc Gbaffou, founder of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF), said governments have been aware of Libya’s slave trade for years.

“What came as a shock is that people are being auctioned off like goods to other human beings. People, including governments, were alerted years ago but did not do anything. We have been told other countries such as Niger have been involved in the practice.”

The ADF was organising a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria next week, to raise awareness and prompt the South African government into action. The SA National Defence Force said it was unaware of reports that South African soldiers had been sent to Libya to intervene.

Idris Derby, president of the Republic of Chad, yesterday threatened to bring down the full force of his army should the Libyan government fail to act on the slave syndicates operating in the war-torn country.

Last week, 252 Cameroonians who fell victim to the trade, were rescued by Samuel Eto’o, Cameroonian soccer player for Turkish club Antalyaspor, who paid for their flights back home. In the same week, the AU announced it would launch a probe into the humanitarian situation in Libya.

Milton Taka, an organiser for SA’s Cameroon community, said while a significant number of victims were from his home country, it was difficult to trace them.


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