In the wake of rumors of human trafficking of African migrants and modern-day slavery in Libya, a fact-finding team from Ghana was dispatched to Libya to ascertain the veracity of these claims. The five-member team compromised of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the research department of the Ghana Immigration Service and the Ministry of Interior.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway says that the team, after holding extensive discussions with a number of Ghanaians in Tripoli, has come to the conclusion that some Ghanaians have set up camps across the Sahara desert where they exploit and traffic fellow Ghanaians as slaves in Libya.
Delivering a statement in Parliament on the alleged sale of African migrants in Libya on Wednesday, the Minister said during the course of the journey, Ghanaians who were unable to afford the cost from one point to the other were handed over to people she referred to as “ghetto leaders”. These ghetto leaders, mostly Ghanaians had set up ghettos along the routes which they operated in collaboration with their partners in Ghana.
“Per their modus operandi, when a migrant is handed over to them, he will be made to call his family back home in Ghana. His family will then be directed to call an agent or partner of the ghetto leader to settle the indebtedness, after which the migrant is released to continue the journey to the next town”.
“Where there is a delay in the settlement of the migrant’s debt, the migrant is tortured and the abusive act video recorded and sent home to his family. However, in the event that a migrant is unable to settle his/her indebtedness, he/she is sent to Ben Wahlid, another city in Southern Libya and offered for sale to those in need of cheap labor. This is done in collaboration with some Libyan nationals”.
She said that between 10,000 and 18,000 Ghanaians were currently resident in Libya, a sizeable number of them legally, with some having lived there for over two decades. The fact-finding team, the Minister said, confirmed that 72 Ghanaians have been arrested and detained in Libya for various offenses including illegal entry, possession of fake passports and attempting to embark on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.
According to Ms. Botchway, the team issued travel certificates to all the 72 Ghanaians identified, and that Ghana’s mission was to liaison with the International Organisation for Migration to ensure their repatriation to Ghana as soon as possible.
It says a lot about the living conditions in Ghana when close to 20,000 people prefer to migrate to Libya of all godforsaken places than stay in their own country. Things are really that bad and Ghanaians will go anywhere and endure anything just to escape the torture that is living in Ghana.
It is good that the government is intervening to secure the freedom of those who have been sold into slavery and bringing them back home. But what are they bringing them home to? They left Ghana for Libya for a reason. Bringing them back and not doing anything to provide better living conditions to prevent these shameful and unfortunate migrations is not anything to write home about.