Torture, rape and hunger in Libyan refugee camps

"Big, strong boys for field work," says a voice that could be that of an auctioneer: "800 ... 900 ... 1,000 ... 1,100" is heard before two men are sold for 875 dollars.  

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Torture, rape and hunger in Libyan refugee camps - NewsMavens
Syrian refugees on ship. Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

"Unimaginable horror" -- this is how UN Human Rights Commissioner Zaid Ra'ad Al-Hussein describes conditions in Libyan refugee camps. These words were first and foremost addressed to the EU, whom Ra'ad Al-Hussein accuses of cooperating with the Libyan coastguard which is, as a rule, brutal towards refugees.

Ellen van der Velden spoke to Der Standard about the conditions in Libyan refugee camps. The Dutch head of Doctors without Borders says many are traumatized, emaciated, physically ill, and lack the most basic needs like water or daylight.

A week ago, a video filmed by CNN revealed that Africans in the refugee transit country are sold as slaves. The footage shows an auction of migrants attended by North African buyers:

"Big, strong boys for field work," says a voice that could be that of an auctioneer: "800 ... 900 ... 1,000 ... 1,100" is heard before two men are sold for 875 dollars.

Reports of the alleged slave trade sparked harsh reactions: the chairman of the African Union, Guinea's President Alpha Condé, called for clarification and prosecution in the face of a "despicable trade" reminiscent of a "different age".

In a disturbing feature, Der Standard's Kim Son Hoang describes why the situation has worsened in September due to a change of government in Libya -- and why Europe is the only lifeline available to refugees.

Details from the story:

  • Libya is a transit country for refugees from several other African countries, notably Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and the Gambia.
  • Many take the grueling and risky way through the Libyan desert in the hope of being brought to Italy by smugglers.
  • However, many refugees are stranded in Libya, and the refugee camps are bursting at the seams.
  • UN Human Rights Commissioner Zaid Ra'ad Al-Hussein described the conditions there as "human," "catastrophic," and a "crime on the human conscience."
  • Last week, a CNN video was released, revealing how people from other African countries are publicly auctioned at slave markets in Libya.
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