22, November 2017
Survivors of slave auctions in Libya have described a “total hell” that they wouldn’t wish on their “worst enemy” as global outrage grows over footage showing refugees being sold off in the war-torn country.
“We were slaves,” said Moussa Sanogo, a refugee who flew back to Ivory Coast from Libya this week after surviving regular beatings and forced labor in the fields.
“For the Arabs (Libyan jailers), black-skinned men are nothing but animals — animals were treated better,” said Sanogo, who spent more than four months in Libya trying to get to Italy by boat.
The North African country has long been a major transit hub for refugees trying to reach Europe.
He was just one of those who returned home with stories similar to those aired last week by US TV network CNN, which showed an apparent slave auction where black men were presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400 (340 euros).
“It was total hell in Libya,” said Maxime Ndong, one of 250 refugees flown back to Cameroon on Tuesday night.
The Cameroonians flew back to Yaounde on Tuesday aboard a plane charted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of a project to return and reintegrate some 850 people.
The United Nations said the slavery auctions should be investigated as possible crimes against humanity, and the issue will be on agenda at an African Union-EU summit on November 29 to 30 in Abidjan.