Eritrean priest Zerai urges Italy to annul Libya deal

'True slave market in the country' says after IOM report

20 April, 21:15

     ROME - The Eritrean Catholic priest Mussie Zerai called for Italy to annul its agreement on migration with the Libyan government under Fayez Al-Serraj, following the publication of an International Organization for Migration report published in Geneva. ''Hundreds of African refugees and migrants have been kidnapped in Libya to ask for ransom money or to be sold for forced labor or sexual exploitation'' in ''a true slave market'', he said in recent days.

    Father Zerai is known as the ''apostle of migrants'' and is engaged in humanitarian efforts with the Habeshia agency. He has been a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. ''This occurs especially in Sabha, the city in Fezzan that is the main hub for artery roads converging from southern Libya,'' the priest said, adding that ''the situation in Libya is of course the most serious, but conditions of extreme danger, abuse of power, inhuman suffering and systematic violation of rights are seen to be growing at an exponential rate even in other transit countries and ones where the migrants stop first'', such as Sudan, Egypt and Niger. In Egypt for istance, he noted, the prisons are full of undocumented refugees who are destined to remain there until they can pay the expenses of a forced return to their home countries.

    ''This return implies for many - starting from Eritreans - a risk of persecution and in extreme cases a risk to their lives,'' Zerai said, adding that ''in Cairo, Alexandria and all major cities, a climate of widespread hostility is growing'', forcing migrants to live almost clandestinely. The cleric has thus called on Italy to ''put pressure on the government in Tripoli'' against the ''slave market'' and ''suspend or, better, revoke'' an agreement with Libya on migration as well as the ''pact with Fezzan tribes''. Father Zerai and his humanitarian agency, which has for years been dealing with the dramatic situations African migrants find themselves in when they travel towards Europe, say that the 'Memorandum on Immigration' that Italy has signed with Libya - ''which has also been rejected by and declared null and void by the Tripoli court'' - may lead to a worsening of the already tremendous conditions that refugees and migrants find themselves in.

    A pact with Fezzan tribes, he added, has also been ''rejected and ruled invalid by the highest representatives of some of the most important and authoritative clans. In light of what is happening, there is no guarantee on the treatment, security or destiny of migrants that may be intercepted and blocked by these tribes''. 

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean