BALTIMORE (November 29, 2017)—The NAACP is calling for the United Nations to fully investigate ongoing media reports of the horrific enslavement of African migrants in Libya.
“We are calling on our government, which has a high level of influence and power within the United Nations, to work with the UN General Assembly and other related NGOs to push forward a process to investigate these horrendous crimes against humanity allegedly ongoing in Libya. We also call on them to create basic protections for the migrants trapped in Libya and other African nations who at the risk of life and limb, are attempting to make their way to a better life,” said NAACP Board Chairman Leon W. Russell.
According to a recent news report in the Washington Post, nearly 400,000 to a million African migrants are trapped in Libya.
“Exploiting people for free and cheap labor is inhuman and must be addressed immediately,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “The NAACP strongly urges the United Nations to immediately step in to prevent this type of exploitation from continuing.”
In a September report on the situation in Libya, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “We cannot even guess the scale of the abuses inflicted on migrants in all these hidden places, untouched by the rule of law. The situation of migrants crossing Libya was appalling during Gaddafi’s era, but it has become diabolical since.”
The UN High Commissioner also mentions a previous report issued last December that, in his words, “detailed the horrendous violations and abuses faced by migrants in official and unofficial detention centres in Libya.” The Commissioner continued, “The report received some attention at the time, but memories are short when facts are inconvenient. Nine months later, the situation has, if anything, grown worse. Allegations pour in, far beyond our capacity to verify them. Reports of bodies in the desert, in the forest, on the beaches. UN human rights staff contact the morgues in various towns, which complain they do not have enough space to store all the bodies. Some migrants die of thirst, hunger or easily-cured illnesses, some are tortured or beaten to death while working as slave labour, others are just casually murdered.”
Millions of Africans in search of better economic opportunities have utilized Libya’s proximity to Europe as a staging ground for illegal and unsafe transport to Europe, which leaves them at the mercy of rogue militias and other groups seeking to exploit their situation for monetary gain and other nefarious means.