If you’ve been living under a rock this month, you might have missed CNN’s heart breaking report about modern day slavery auctions taking place in Libya. Migrants are being sold off for as low as $400 as farm workers. If you’re a little unclear on what’s going on, here is a very brief breakdown of the situation.
Who are the migrants?
The migrants are made up of people fleeing violence, economic hardship, political instability and more from various countries in West Africa and East Africa. They either hire guides to help them escape up north or go it alone. They often put everything they have financially into the journey in hopes of finding a better life or just simply to save their lives. More than 150,000 people have made the crossing into Europe every year for the last three years, but many die each year either from drowning when their overcrowded boats sink or in the desserts of Libya from hunger, thirst, or abuse by their smugglers.
Due to their proximity to Europe, the countries in North Africa have always been a popular destination for people hoping to make the short, but often dangerous, crossing to Europe. Since the fall of the long time dictator Muammar Gaddafi (the overthrow of Gaddafi was backed by the U.S.), Libya has been unstable and suffering from a divided government. This has created a booming human trafficking business.
A huge influx of migrants are flooding into the country, most led by human smugglers. When they are unable to make the crossing either due to lack of money or the tightening of European coasts, they get stuck in Libya in horrible migrant camps, making them susceptible to abuse and now a modern day slave trades.
Who is selling slaves?
Human traffickers and smugglers are making money in these areas by either helping migrants cross over to Europe or selling them into prostitution and slavery.
What can you do to help?
Because the reporting by CNN and other news sources has caused an outrage, Libya has repeatedly said they will open investigations into these slave auctions. Various organizations work to stop slavery worldwide and fight situations that lead migrants to flee their home countries.
- Here are some organizations to support:
- You can also contact the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to advocate for a comprehensive investigation in Libya that will end this tragedy.
- You can sign the Change.org petition to stop migrants from becoming slaves in Libya here.
For an even more in depth understanding of how you can help, read Bustle’s fantastic article on this issue.