By Donu Kogbara
I’VE just read, in the Political Economist, an online publication, a shocking article about Africans being openly bought and sold in Libyan “slave markets”.
This information is, according to the article, coming from survivors of human trafficking who reported their experiences to officials of the United Nations International Organisation for Migration, IOM.
The victims of this evil trade are nationals of several sub-Saharan countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Senegal. They embark on arduous journeys to North Africa, in the hope of finding work and better new lives there – or across the Mediterranean, in Europe. And they wind up being enslaved, starved, physically abused, sexually assaulted or murdered.
IOM staff in Niger Republic spoke to a recently rescued Senegalese migrant who this week was returning to his home after being held captive for months. The young man shared his tale of woe with them. Apparently, while he was travelling through the Sahara desert, he arrived in Agadez (Niger), where he was told that he’d have to pay about $320 to continue to Libya. So he paid. And a trafficker gave him accommodation until the agreed departure date.
A truck eventually showed up and the young man and other migrants were driven to Sabha in south-western Libya. But when they got there, the driver claimed that the trafficker hadn’t paid him on their behalf and dumped his passengers in a car park in which sub-Saharans were being bought and sold by Libyans.
Worse still, the Libyans were being aided and abetted by sub-Saharans – Ghanaian and Nigerian collaborators. Imagine selling your own brethren to depraved foreigners you KNOW will batter, rape, starve, financially exploit or kill them!!!
Shame on these greedy traitors and may God punish them!
As Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operations and emergencies, poignantly put it: “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants…Last year we learned 14 migrants died in a single month in one of those locations, just from disease and malnutrition. We are hearing about mass graves in the desert.”
Abdiker added that so far this year, the Libyan Coast Guard and others have found 171 bodies washed up on Mediterranean shores, casualties of migrant boats that foundered offshore. The Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.
“Migrants who go to Libya while trying to get to Europe, have no idea of the torture archipelago that awaits them just over the border,” said Leonard Doyle, chief IOM spokesman in Geneva. “There they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.
“…To get the message out across Africa about the dangers, we are recording the testimonies of migrants who have suffered and are spreading them across social media and on local FM radio. Tragically, the most credible messengers are migrants returning home with IOM help. Too often, they are broken and brutalized…”
Folks who uproot themselves, abandon everything they know and gamble on unpredictable scenarios in unfamiliar far-flung places do so because they regard their current circumstances as intolerable and are desperate for change.
Such individuals are willing to take huge risks. And I suspect that nothing that IOM officials or eyewitnesses tell them will persuade them to stay at home. I pray that the IOM’s laudable enlightenment campaign succeeds. But my guess is that irregular migration will not end anytime soon.
There is sometimes logic in the madness of the reckless; and I don’t expect people to stop heading towards hazardous destinations in droves until sub-Saharan governments cease to spectacularly fail to provide their citizens with decent livelihoods and hope for the future.
It is completely outrageous and embarrassing for a country as blessed with natural resources as Nigeria to feature on a list of “deprived” countries that routinely export economic refugees and more or less push them into the cold, hard clutches of heartless and avaricious flesh-smugglers and flesh-peddlers.
Dynamic, intelligent, honest, effective leadership is in very short supply in our part of the world.
Cuomo’s words of wisdom
MARIO Cuomo, who died in 2015, was an American politician. He served as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, and amously and eloquently said that: “Politicians campaign in poetry, but they govern in prose.”
He was referring to the contrast between fancy speeches and lofty silver-tongued promises politicians make when they are seeking our votes…and the tough complex prosaic realities they face when they win elections and are compelled to come down to earth and govern.
Many political leaders have discovered this indisputable truth. And some have perhaps been aware of it all along.
Donald Trump, for example, delivered all sorts of bombastic assurances and opinions on his campaign trail, but has (shamelessly!) flip-flopped on a number of key issues since he entered the White House and discovered that governance isn’t as simple as he thought…and that business is a totally different animal from foreign policy and healthcare reforms and so on.
And I’m sure that it has already dawned on him that building a wall between the US and Mexico is a vow he won’t be able to fulfil!
Meanwhile, Buhari, for example, had been President before, so when he got another bite at the cherry in 2015, he should have known better than to make flowery promises he should have known he couldn’t keep!
But – hey! – he had an electorate to seduce and may genuinely have believed that he could control the exchange rate to the extent where the naira and dollar would be neck and neck!
Anyway, both of the above would be ill-advised to argue with Harvard academic, Brent Colburn, who has pointed out that: “Many of the skills needed to win the presidency appear transferable to the world of governance, but many of the challenges faced by a sitting president prove very different than those encountered on the campaign trail.”
Spouting too much poetry can cause one to eat too much humble pie!