Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 08:10:58 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Refugees are nothing but commodities

By
12th-Nov-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Daan Bauwens :
As countless refugees arriving on Italy's shores report torture, extortion and forced labour in Libyan detention centers, many say they never intended to make the journey to Europe until the chaos in Libya left them no other choice.
"We were still working on the construction site when I was taken apart from the others. The guard pulled his gun, aimed it at me and told me he'd shoot if I tried to walk away. After ten minutes of trembling with fear, a truck arrived and I was ordered to get in. We drove to a beach where a crowd was being kept at gunpoint by other guards in uniforms. They forced us to board a Zodiac and pushed us into the open sea. The second day we were saved by a European ship."
Amidou Kone (23) now lives in Follonica, in a refugee center that used to be a tourist campsite in Tuscany. He is one of the 113,722 refugees who made the passage from Libya to Italy, the deadliest crossing in the world with a total of 2,714 fatalities from the start of the year up until now.
Amidou left his home country of the Ivory Coast after his entire family was killed during a raid in the 2011 war. After passing through Burkina Faso and working as a shepherd for a farmer in Niger, he is certain he was sold to Libyan militias after a business trip with his boss to Libya. "They wanted me to call my family for ransom," he says, "but didn't want to believe that everyone had died so they started torturing me." Amidou shows the scars on his head, caused by blows with Kalashnikov stocks. He points at the blank spots around his right index and right ankle. "They tried to cut off my finger with a knife and then they wanted to beat my foot with a flashlight. Why so much cruelty? I don't have the faintest idea."
Kidnapping industry
For over two years, the cruelty of detention in Libyan detention camps has been widely reported and denounced but with no immediate end in sight. Two months ago, the head of MSF Joanne Liu wrote an open letter calling the Libyan detention system "rotten to the bone", "a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion." She accused Europe of being complicit in the situation as the Union, "blinded by the single-minded goal of keeping people outside of Europe", funds Libya to help stop the boats from departing.
Bai, 19 years old from Mali, arrived on the Sicilian coast in early September. He remembers several mass kidnappings. "There was forty of us living in a house in the city," he says. "One eventing two men with Kalashnikovs came in, started shouting. They told us to get aboard vehicles waiting in the street. We were locked up, they beat us with sticks and chains. We had to call home.
Anyone who could convince their family to send money was allowed to go. My family agreed, but I was caught by another group the following week. There wasn't any more money left so they put me to work to pay my trip to Europe."
Under laws passed with Europe's encouragement during the reign of Muammar Ghadaffi, immigration is illegal in Libya and the country does not offer asylum. Every undocumented migrant is therefore liable for detention.
Various rival governments and militias run networks of detention centers. UNHCR can only enter 29 of them, run by the department to counter illegal migration (DCIM), headed by the Serraj government, the government Europe chose to recognize. The total number of camps is unknown and international funding for "official" camps has ignited a battle for control over these camps by armed groups looking for money or international legitimacy.
Forced to cross
In the meantime, both DCIM officials and militias rent out detainees to local employers for personal profit. Amidou and Boi also fell victim to forced labour while detained. "Two years as a mason," Amidou tells, "without payment. In those two years, I've seen nothing but water and bread." When he was eventually found to be too weak for work, he was taken to the boat.
"Refugees are nothing but commodities," says Anaspasia Papadopoulou, senior policy advisor at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in Brussels. "Militias use them to make a profit. When they are no longer useful, they need to get rid of them."
Amidou's forced crossing is echoed in the stories told by countless other migrants. In fact, many of them them didn't come to Libya to cross to Europe but turn out to have lived and worked in the country for years. Balde Tcherno (37) from Guinea-Bissau was a shoe salesman for five years, making the trip home once every year to be with his family. On his last trip back in 2011, he was arrested and forced, at gunpoint, to board a boat to Italy. Rockson Adams (27) from Ghana arrived in Libya after the removal of Ghadaffi and got a lucrative job in construction, but after two years he was kidnapped and forced to pay ransom. After killings in his circle of friends and explosions in his area, he decided to pay a smuggler to cross over.
"The refugee flow from Libya is clearly a mix," says Anaspasia Papadopoulo. "There's people who already lived in the country and who went there because until a few years back, it was still a rich country.
Then there's the internally displaced Libyans. And of course there's the Sub-Saharan Africans, Bangladeshis and Syrians who've come to Libya with the intention of crossing. Many fall victim to exploitation and into the hands of traffickers instead of smugglers."
According to some analysts, the situation is making it hard to separate "economic migrants" from "refugees" as many who travelled to Libya for work become victims of exploitation and violence.
-IPS

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Maldives' people reject authoritarian rule and voted for democracy


MALDIVES strongman President Yameen Abdul Gayoom conceded that he lost Sunday's election to his challenger Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in a speech broadcast live on television Monday, according to the international media. Mr Yameen congratulated Solih and said, "I know I have to step down now."  The Election Commission said voter ...

Cricket »

'Rashid is best but not unplayable' says Mahmudullah


Mahmudullah Riyad sorted out a vigorous 74 against Afghanistan rescuing Bangladesh from a plausible downfall.Mahmudullah Riyad and Imrul Kayes stood tall in the middle when the team was languishing losing all five in the top order in a score of 87 on the board. The duo added 128 runs in ...

International »

Thousands attend funeral for Iran attack dead


AFP :Tens of thousands of mourners attended a funeral on Monday in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz for soldiers and civilians killed in an attack on a military parade.Four militants attacked the Saturday parade marking the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, spraying the crowd with gunfire and killing ...

International »

Hong Kong pro-independence party formally outlawed in first such move since handover


Reuters, Hong Kong  :Hong Kong authorities formally banned on Monday a group promoting independence from China - the first outlawing of a political organization since Britain handed its former colony back to Chinese rule in 1997.The city's Secretary for Security John Lee announced the ban on the Hong Kong National ...

City »

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressing a reception accorded to her by the expatriate Bangladeshis at a hotel in New York on Sunday.


Entertainment »

Mehazabien, Apurba in Puja special play


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Popular pair of the small screen of present time Mehazabien Chowdhury and Ziaul Faruk Apurba worked together in a special play of Durga Puja for the first time. Title of the play is Priyo Tumi. Directed by Mahmudur Rahman Himi story of the play is written by ...

Editorial »

Attack on Iran`s elite guards


IRANIAN Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of carrying out a shooting attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, almost half of them members of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards. Khamenei ordered security forces to bring to justice those responsible for one of the ...

Sports »

Bertens defeats Tomljanovic to secure Korea Open win


AFP, Seoul :Kiki Bertens defeated Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic in the Korea Open final on Sunday, securing her third WTA Tour singles title of the season to continue her career-best year.The second-seeded Bertens came back from break down in the deciding set to defeat the Australian in two hours and 22 ...

International »

World leaders gather at UN under threat from unilateralism


AP, United Nations :With rising unilateralism challenging its very existence, the United Nations convenes its annual meeting of world leaders Monday and will try once more to tackle problems together as a community of nations, addressing threats ranging from Mideast conflicts to the effects of global warming - and also ...

City »

National Professor Anisuzzaman seen among others at the cover unveiling ceremony of a book marking the 80th birthday of eminent writer Hasan Azizul Haq organised by Bangladesh Culture at Jatiya Press Club yesterday.


Entertainment »

Nazira Mou to debut in film with Indraneil


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Viewers’ choice popular actress Nazira Mou has been acting in small screen for many days. She got many offers for acting in big screen. But she did not agree to act due to disliking stories and her roles in those works. When Mou got the proposal from ...

Editorial »

CPJ reveals weakness of journalists by appealing to President


THE Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a letter to the Bangladesh President has expressed deep concern about the Digital Security Act 2018, which was passed by the Parliament on September 18, and urged him to return it to Parliament for a review afresh.   If this legislation was allowed to ...

International »

Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal


Reuters, New delhi :Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner.Indian political parties have been gunning for ...

International »

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Report


Reuters, Washington: The US official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump last year and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from the White House, the New York Times reported on Friday.Deputy Attorney ...

Football »

Tabarez renews with Uruguay until Qatar World Cup


AFP, Montevideo :Despite failing health the veteran coach Oscar Tabarez has signed a four-year contract extension to remain at the Uruguay helm until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the South American country's football federation said on Friday.Tabarez, who suffers from a nerve disorder that forces him ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news