Earlier this month, photos of Libyans being auctioned off into slavery hit the web and quickly went viral. These photos were pretty shocking to the world because it was just like the imagery we saw in our history books: slaves being huddled up in close proximity in extremely inhumane conditions. Other pictures featured them being held at gun point, which of course also raised issues of concern.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that a lot of these photos weren’t actually linked to the story being thrown around. Many of the pictures that went viral were from months, if not even years, earlier.
This photo above, which was included in many of the viral posts, is actually from six years ago. The picture shows Libyan rebels holding someone assumed to be a pro-Gaddafi militant at gunpoint. Yes, the media coverage of what’s happening in Libya is a little distorted; but the reality is still incredibly grim.
So what is actually going on in Libya? As of right now, there are indeed hundreds of refugees being sold weekly in Libya with many being forced into prostitution as well. After a video broadcast by CNN showing West Africans being sold for only a few hundred dollars surfaced, protests ignited all over the world.
While Libyan authorities play a huge role in the abuse happening, the large role the EU plays can’t be ignored either. The EU has pushed to tighten its borders and restrain migration, but they haven’t provided any alternative or legal options for migrants to enter. Lack of options to be granted entry oftentimes leads to these migrants being detained. In a UN report published in June, it was even clarified that the Libyan Coast Guard and the Department to Counter Illegal Migration are both “directly involved” in enslaving those that they detain.
These slave trades aren’t new, and it’s about time that more attention is being brought to it. Libyan Militias and government authorities have been enslaving refugees for years, with little to no public outcry. So what can be done to put a stop to this?
The first step is to keep spreading awareness on social media about what’s happening. The next step is to contact the UN and put pressure on investigating and ending the slave trade. Other options include donating to organizations dedicated to ending slavery like Free the Slaves and to agencies like the United Nations Refugee Agency. In the age of social media, your most powerful weapon is your voice. It’s important that we use our voice to help aid the ending atrocities like this that happen all over the world.