Many of you have seen the troubling images and reports of men being chained and whipped, women being raped and abused, and children being stripped of their innocence and left to suffer. The slave trade happening in Libya is undoubtedly heartbreaking news. While it may make you feel better to turn off the TV and/or log off social media, this is not a matter we can turn a blind eye to.
Earlier this month, CNN brought the slave auctions to light. The publication sent journalists to Libya to investigate, and what they discovered was unimaginable. The journalists witnessed men being sold for as low as $400 and other inhumane acts.
Thousands of men, women and children flee to Libya every year in hopes of a better life. However, their journeys are short-lived once they reach Libya’s border. Before the refugees and migrants can cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe, which many see as a promise land, they are deceived by smugglers amongst Libya’s coastline and sold into slavery.
“A recent clampdown by the Libyan coastguard means fewer boats are making it out to sea, leaving smugglers with a backlog of would-be passengers on their hands,” CNN reports. “So the smugglers become masters, the migrants and refugees become slaves.”
Slavery? How can such a thing still be happening?! Why hasn’t this issue garnered more media attention? What can we do to help? You’re not the only one with these questions. So, I asked EGL’s journalists and sisters to chime in and offer their insight, advice and opinions.
“The situation in Libya is jarring, to say the least. Over the years, we’ve been taught the stories of slavery and seen pictures through history books, but to actually see it happening in real time is devastating. I scroll through my newsfeed and right after a Cardi B. or Fashion Nova post are photos of OUR people being tortured and sold like cattle for an insulting couple of hundred dollars… in 2017. Even more insulting is the lack of coverage. Your President (because he isn’t mine) hops on Twitter to rant about what he considers fake news on an absolute regular, yet he hasn’t addressed this situation. Why? Because in the eloquent words of Kanye West, Trump ‘doesn’t care about black people.’ And seemingly, neither does the media. News outlets literally spoon fed us the news of Prince Harry getting married, yet CNN has been one of the only outlets to really dig into the slave trade. While I’m ecstatic the royal palace is going to get some black girl magic, I think Libya deserves airtime and our (as in America’s) help. Social media posts from celebrity’s simply aren’t enough.”
“Seeing the viral photographs circulating the internet of Libyans enslaved makes me wonder the motives of the photographers & all parties involved in publicizing such cruel behavior. How credible are the sources really to be so up-close and personal? There is no doubt the severity of this inhuman operation is deeper than what the natural eye can see. I believe the President & the United States government are well informed and may have been for decades. Based on the recent patterns of responses to major devastations within the U.S. turf, I’m sure the White House will respond to this issue publicly. There is definitely a need to hone in on human trafficking from Africa to Europe as well as other countries, Including the United States.”
“Honestly, I can’t even wrap my brain around this outrageous situation that is currently undergoing in Libya. I understand that it takes time for things to change, but SLAVERY? I truly thought we were past slavery and that’s why it’s in our history textbooks or movies. I wasn’t aware that we are currently living in a world where people are being sold like merchandise. It’s disgusting. People from other countries are just like us. They are human beings. This disgraceful drama reminds us of the darkest hours of humanity. We truly need to destroy the cause of this crisis. We need to invest in our people and country. We need to improve the future for the ones who live in Africa.”
“Never in my 33 years on this earth would I imagine history repeating itself in 2017. First and foremost, my heart and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific slave trade and their families. To wake up one day and find out you’re no longer a free citizen in your country is unimaginable. We owe it to humanity to help the victims. It is up to us to use our power and do whatever we can to stop this from going any further.”
“The Libya slave trade is horrific. My concern is the lack of coverage on this story. Prostitution, murder, and human trafficking garners much reason to stress the terrible circumstances of the migrants and refugees in Libya. I read that a plan’s in place to remove victims who are vulnerable to human trafficking there. Hopefully, this is true and laws are put in place to hold those accountable that are affiliated with the slave trade.”
“It’s disheartening. It’s discouraging. I can’t believe any of this is real, or happening, in 2017. History books are flooded with stories about how different nations fought their way to independence, but it was so long ago that our minds are often left to imagine based off the details provided. Seeing actual footage of the enslavement in Libya not only served as a visual of this particular event, but also of all the slavery our ancestors worked so hard to overcome. It’s difficult to understand the lack of actual media coverage for this, but it reminds me of the stories of missing children that would have also gone unnoticed without social media. It forces me to beg the question: would this get more attention if it didn’t involve people of color? And unfortunately, I think the answer would be yes. Aside from race, the silence may also either indicate an uncertainty of how to respond to the situation, a state of oblivion as to what is occurring or as some silence is interpreted, acceptance of the issue. The president should respond to this situation and I believe he will, especially with social media being a platform he often uses. If we do our part and share the content, it would be hard to ignore that this is an issue that affects us all, and he’ll almost feel pressured to address it.”
Since more light has been shed on the slave trades, action has been taken. On November 28th, The Federal Government of Nigeria along with the International Organization of Migration helped 239 Nigerian Migrants return to Nigeria, according to Nikki Laoye. Then on Thursday (Nov. 30), 153 more Nigerian migrants returned home.
Women and Children ftom the 239 Nigerians returned from Libya tonight. (28th November, 2017) .#ThePlaneHasArrived #Update #AtTheAirport #TheLibyaSituation: And the plane has arrived with another batch of 239 Nigerians from Libya. . . Federal Government Of Nigeria in collaboration with IOM (International Organization of Migration) have been working together in facilitating the return of Nigerian Migrants in Libya for over a year now.. Many had traveled illegally through the desert trying to reach Italy via Libya before finding themselves in tight situations, thrown into jail for illegal entry or falling into the hands of wrong people and being sold into slavery/prostitution . . . . On return to Nigeria, Officials from IOM and federal government agencies – NEMA and NCFRMI @ncfrmi_sw (National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons) are always on ground to receive them at the airport. . . . They would be profiled with Food, Accommodation and Financial assistance would be given to them. This has been the general procedure since last year as over 3,000 Nigerian Migrants have been returned from Libya. . . The work continues… . . – Live Report by @NikkiLaoye (NCFRMI Southwest Voice of Refugees and IDPs/Founder of Angel 4 Life Foundation) . . #NCFRMI #LibyaSlaveTrade #Angel4LifeFoundation #NikkiLaoye #PrayForLibya #Libya . . @instablog9ja @bellanaijaonline @olorisupergal @officialhiptv @goldmynetv @krakstv @onlyinnigeria @funny_african_pics
Progress is being made but the fight is far from over. Click Here to see how you can help with the fight against slavery and human trafficking in Libya.
Let’s not make this another social issue that we share on social media then forget about. We cannot let history continue to repeat itself.
Written By: Ericka Smith, Entertainment Editor