Libya has become a major city for a thriving slave trade due to the influx of migrants.
Slavery is a heart-wrenching institution that has managed its way into countless societies throughout history, whether it be ancient Egypt or the 1800s United States. The consensus is that this unfortunate chapter of history has been closed, but sadly this is not the case in Libya.
Six years ago, the U.S. offered its assistance in a tradition as American an apple pie — toppling tyrannies. Libya was plunged into havoc and civil war after the dictator of 42 years, Moammar Gadhafi, was removed.
This havoc has made Libya the site of frequent human rights violations and surreal levels of violence. The most recent horror to unfold, though, is a thriving modern-day slave trade. The International Organization of Migration reported that migrants are being sold for as little as $200.
This influx of immigrants that prompted the return of this dehumanizing process can be attributed to the European strengthening of borders. Libya is a main corridor for migrants venturing to Europe, namely Italy. Italy offered $225 million to train and equip border patrol in Libya to secure the borders and reduce the flow of migrants.
This practice leaves many migrants at the hands of their smugglers, people intent on receiving their payment. These smugglers have turned from their once-promising profession to a new one, selling off people who paid thousands for the passage to Europe.
Migrants are placed in detention camps and face depraved treatment, such as systematic violence, rape and rationing,
This situation begs the question of the true cost of securing European borders. The argument is not whether this nation has the right to enforce such policies, but rather how many must pay the expense of this security with their lives.
A survivor of this slave trade, Tirhas Sbhetleab, said, “If you leave us in Libya, you leave us to die.”
This statement embodies the negligence of the international community on what is surely a humanitarian crisis. There are 34 detention camps in Libya, according to UNICEF, with most falling far below acceptable international standards for humane treatment. Those who survive and escape are covered in scars from beatings, whippings and mutilation.
The inflow of 27,000 immigrants in Italy this year is frustrating the Italian government and justifying these policies. For many, Italy is only an entryway into far more affluent European nations, but as immigration checks become more rigorous, many are staying in Italy.
The brutality these people face is horrifyingly nostalgic of what the U.S. once not only permitted, but perpetuated. The treatment of these “masters” to their slaves is barbarian. They are separated from spouses, parents and children, and treated worse than animals.
Those sold into this slavery are used as house servants and field workers. By not acknowledging and stopping this horrendous retelling of history, the international community is directly responsible for the 1,080 lives lost at sea and countless within Libya.
President Donald Trump’s strong rhetoric regarding strengthening our borders encourages European nations to do the same, but this evolution cannot happen overnight.
History is revisiting us in a horrific manner. Migrants —fleeing poverty, war and persecution — are now trapped in Libya and vulnerable to the vilest treatment fathomable. They are begging for our help and our attention and more than anything. Let us show a shred of human dignity.
Senior staff writer Anusheh Siddique is a political science sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected].