'Black' refugees become Libyan militia slaves to carry arms

Habeshia director calls for intervention from Italy, EU, UN

19 August, 15:18

    Black refugeses in Libya Black refugeses in Libya

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - Sub-Saharan refugees are increasingly being taken hostage by militias involved in fighting in the country and are forced to carry weapons, munitions, and supplies to the front line, Habeshia director of Eritrean origins Don Mussie Zerai said on Wednesday. The organization has for years been working with refugees, migrants, and the victims of human trafficking that reach the Mediterranean coast after a journey across Africa. According to a statement released by Don Zerai, those potentially vulnerable include ''all black Africans trapped in the war that is tearing the country apart: Eritreans, Somalis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Malians...anyone from the Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.'' Habeshia underscored that it had denounced the trend to the international community in late July and early August, requesting urgent intervention from the UN, the EU and the US, but to no avail. It has now also called directly on Italy, with Malta the only European country that still has an embassy in Tripoli and signatory of numerous agreements on immigration control under the Gaddafi regime and the rulers that followed.

    During the fighting underway in the Libyan capital, dozens of youths have been taken from their homes or stopped in the street to be used as ''auxiliary forces'' by the militias, and the practice seems to have become systematic. For migrants, this situation ''is even worse than what we saw after the revolution against Gaddafi, when every 'black' African was considered a mercenary at the service of the regime, persecuted, and imprisoned.'' The worst case, Habeshia reports, is in the Kalelarim school in the Bilkaria zone, where hundreds of men, women, and children are imprisoned (almost all of whom Eritreans) and ''forced to live in extreme conditions'' in a ''lager under the control of the fighters, who have made them into an inexhaustible reserve of carrier slaves for arms and munitions.'' According to the statement, partial responsibility lies with ''the countries that have trapped thousands and thousands of youths in a situation like that of Libya'', with its policy of 'outsourcing' management of refugees and migrants, and of ''shifting European borders to the southern Mediterranean, or even further'', turning some African states into ''gendarmes for refugee and migrant control''. (ANSAmed).

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