Middle East and North Africa

Outrage at Libya slave trade of mostly Christian migrants

American network’s footage of Libyan slave auctions have caused outrage throughout Africa. Photo: Still from CNN video

Libyan ambassadors throughout Africa have been summoned to explain the scandalous discovery of markets in Libya where African migrants on their way to Europe are being sold into slavery.

It has even been added to the agenda for the next African Union meeting from 29-30 November.

The scandal was exposed in footage aired by CNN on 15 November showing refugees being sold at an auction block. Journalists working for CNN have discovered several more of these slave markets around the country. Many of these refugees are Christians fleeing religious persecution at home, particularly Eritrean Christians. One of the migrants described Libya as “hell,” adding “I had to live in permanent fear of being picked up by a militia group and sold off as a slave.”

The UN Secretary-General said that “slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.” He has asked relevant UN departments to investigate the issue, and appealed the Libyan leadership to bring those responsible to justice.

Since the fall of Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been beset by chaos and civil war. Islamists have targeted Christian migrants from West Africa and Eritrea in Libya on their way to Europe for kidnap, forceful conversion and sale in what the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) calls “modern-day slave markets.”