Libya slave trade: 'Where is our outrage?'

Recent videos and pictures of the underground slave trade has sparked outrage.

FILE: Reports of African migrants in Libya being sold as slaves have made headlines around the world. Picture: @UNmigration/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – South African media personality Nomzamo Mbatha, US rapper T.I and several others have shared their concerns following reports of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya.

Recent videos and pictures of the underground slave trade has sparked outrage.

CNN exposed the slave trade and the United Nations issued a report after survivors told the UN’s migration agency about the matter.

WATCH: Migrants being sold as 'slaves'

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) staff documented shocking testimonies of trafficking victims, who described "slave markets" tormenting hundreds of young African men bound for Libya.

While Libya’s government says it’s investigating the claims, social media users have called for more action to assist migrants and believe the issue is not being taken seriously.

The hashtag "Libya" has been trending on social media as many try to raise awareness about the matter.

My heart is in torment. Just, broken. African migrants are being traded in what they call SLAVE MARKETS before being held for ransom, forced labor or SEX exploitation. The current “street price” for a captured migrant is running anywhere from $200 to $500, and they are held on average for two to three months These migrants — from NIGERIA, SENEGAL, GAMBIA, and elsewhere — are captured by a wide array of ARMED groups and smuggling networks as they head north towards Libya’s Mediterranean coast, OFTEN TRYING TO CATCH A BOAT TO ITALY. The COUNTRY IS STILL IN A LAWLESS STATE SIX YEARS AFTER the fall of former president MUAMMER GADDAFI. Armed groups COMPETE FOR LAND and resources, and large weapons and people-smuggling networks are operating with total impunity. Even worse, Libya has become a modern-day slave market, keeping migrants at the mercy of a complex TRAFFICKING web tolerated by the country’s many militia groups, an issue largely ignored by the world. #LibyaSlaveTrade #Libya #Refugees #Migrants

A post shared by Nomzamo Mbatha 🇿🇦 (@nomzamo_m) on


US President Donald Trump has been criticised following a tweet in which he again attacks CNN, who revealed the slave trade.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them! (sic)”

While his tweet was not directed at the Libya reports, Libyan news agency ‘Libya 218’ has since used his comments to discredit reports of a slave trade.

It listed several reasons why CNN is “unprofessional”, adding that the broadcaster has ulterior motives.


In response to growing international concerns, the UN says its held a meeting in New York about risks facing migrants and refugees.

The organisations says it’s stepping up its work, but faces “dramatic” funding gaps, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi told the council: “The grave abuses perpetrated against migrants and refugees along the Central Mediterranean routes can no longer be ignored.

“Compelled to flee, but without legal pathways to safety, refugees are exposed to appalling harm, together with migrants, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour.”

Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM’s head of operation and emergencies, says slave markets can be added to a "long list of outrages" in Libya.

He says IOM staff in Libya had gained access to several detention centres, where they are trying to improve conditions.

“What we know is that migrants who fall into the hands of smugglers face systematic malnutrition, sexual abuse and even murder. 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.”

It’s understood the IOM has helped 13,000 people get out of detention centres in Libya and 8,000 in Niger.

There are about 15,000 still in such facilities.

Over 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Added to this, more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.

ILO has adopted a new legally binding protocol to strengthen global efforts to eliminate forced labour.