A year on and the situation in Libya is still fraught ... and it's the most vulnerable who are suffering most
NEARLY a year after the conflict in Libya, the central authorities are struggling to exert their control over the various factions that contributed to overthrowing the dictator. As in all situations of political and social instability, the most vulnerable face the most serious threats. And in today's Libya, even more so than under Gaddafi, migrants, particularly those from sub Saharan Africa, are paying a heavy price.
From the outset of the Libyan conflict on 17 February 2011, migrants were particular targets of violence and abuse, causing hundreds of thousands of them to flee the country. But as the country rebuilds itself, Libya is once again a major destination for migrants from sub Saharan Africa, trying to escape persecution and find work.
Yet in today's Libya, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees find themselves hounded by groups of former rebels (Katibas), acting outside any legal framework in a context of deep-rooted racism, who have assigned themselves the task of “ridding the country of migrants who bring crime and disease”. Migrants are arrested at checkpoints and in their homes and taken to improvised detention centres, run by Katibas, where they are held for indefinite periods in airless and insalubrious cells, suffering physical and psychological abuse at the hands of the guards. They have no idea whether and when they may regain their freedom.