There is an estimated 48,000 people living in modern slavery in Libya (GSI 2018). Libya is a major transit destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe by sea. Human trafficking networks have prospered amid lawlessness, created by the warring militias that have been fighting for control of territories since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Highly organized trafficking and migrants smuggling networks that reach into Libya from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states subject migrants to forced labor and forced prostitution through fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, debt bondage, and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. In some cases, migrants reportedly pay smuggling fees to reach Tripoli, but once they cross the Libyan border they are sometimes abandoned in southern cities or the desert where they are susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking.
Amobi* moved to Benin after the death of his father. He was told to travel to Europe through Libya, where he was trafficked through debt bondage.
After my father died, I moved to Benin for greener pastures to try and get more money. It was in Benin that I was told to try and get to Libya and from there to Europe. To get to Europe, I had to pay 700,000 naira [approximately £1,650]. I sold my father’s property, but I still only had 500,000 naira [approximately £1,200]. They said I would make it up by working two weeks in Libya. I left for Libya from Kano. I spent nine days in the desert. Many people died. It was very hard; we say God saved us. In Libya we went from one punishment to another. The Nigerian contact I had was no longer reachable as soon as I got to Libya. We were taken from place to place. There were further charges, I couldn’t pay. I started car washing and my wages were taken to pay the fee. I was doing this for around six or seven months. Even after I paid the man, he would not let me go…
Narrative provided by ICAI