Asylum seekers from Senegal, The Gambia, Nigeria and other African nations are being auctioned off in Libya, in open “slave markets” reports the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Many said that smugglers demanded ransoms from their families in exchange for passage. “Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM’s chief of mission for Libya during a meeting in Geneva.
Victims are being bought and sold in parking garages and public squares, reports BBC. Some are forced to work as guards for trafficking rings, and others who possess specialized skills are sold at higher prices.
“People are purchased for between $200 and $500 and are held on average for two or three months,” he said.
Most are preyed upon by smugglers and militiamen as they attempt to catch boats to Italy from Libya’s Mediterranean coast. One Senegalese migrant told the story of how he had been sold from one captor to another after living in a house holding 100 captives. As for women, Belbeisi says “we heard a lot about bad treatment, rape and being forced into prostitution.”
The plight of African migrants is only intensifying.“Migrants who go to Libya while trying to get to Europe, have no idea of the torture archipelago that awaits them just over the border,” said Leonard Doyle, chief IOM spokesman. “There they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.”