African migrants seeking Europe sold as 'slaves'

2017-04-12 05:00
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Geneva - African migrants trying to reach Europe are being sold into slavery in Libya, including for sex, for as little as $200, international monitors said on Tuesday, citing testimony from victims.

Having paid human traffickers in the hope of finding a better life many instead were held hostage and their families extorted for ransom.

The International Organisation for Migration said "slave market conditions" and detention were increasingly common as criminal gangs sought to cash in.

"Selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger," said Othman Belbeisi, the IOM's chief of mission in Libya.

Slave traders

"Migrants ... are being sold in markets as a commodity" at a going rate of between $200 and $500 a head, he said.

While some migrants sold this way managed to escape, many wallowed in captivity for months before being bought free or sold on.

The UN agency could not provide statistics over how many people were affected, but relied on accounts provided to its staff on the ground.

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians, were also "forced to work for the kidnappers/slave traders as guards in the ransom houses or in the 'market' itself," one IOM staff member said.
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