Nigerian ‘mafia’ work with Libyans to smuggle migrants
Amid the global outcry over hellish migrant camps in Libya, many African leaders have accused the country of racism and crimes against their African “brothers”.
But for those who have returned from the living hell, it’s not only the Libyans who are profiting from the “migrant business”. Illegal migrants are also the prey of sub-Saharan mafia groups, especially Nigerians.
Some 200 Nigerians being repatriated that day could hardly begin to describe the horrors they had suffered in Libya.
One just said: “The Arab man doesn’t like Africans.” But others spoke up as confidence and a spirit of revenge began to show, and their testimonies recounted to AFP were unanimous: both Libyans and Nigerians are responsible for the ill treatment, kidnappings and enslavement of migrants.
Nigerian consular services based in Libya have sped up the repatriation procedure under orders from Abuja, after a CNN video showing migrants being sold as “slaves” shocked the world.
In November, 1 300 Nigerians were repatriated compared with only 643 between last December and March. Nigerian authorities claim that 5 000 nationals are still “stranded” in areas “accessible by consular services”.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), nearly 250 000 sub-Saharan migrants were in Libya, as of the end of September. The largest number of them is from Nigeria, a country of 190 million people. The IOM noted that these estimates were “certainly lower than the reality”.
At the same time, international organisations find access to Libya extremely complicated and limited.