African Refugees Bought, Sold and Murdered in Libya
Hundreds of African refugees are being bought and sold in “slave markets” across Libya every week, a human trafficker has told Al Jazeera, with many of them held for ransom or forced into prostitution and sexual exploitation to pay their captors and smugglers.
Many of them ended up being murdered by their smugglers in the open desert or die from thirst or car accidents in the vast Libyan desert, said Salman*, the human trafficker.
A morgue in the southern city of Sabha – an entry point for many refugees coming from Africa – is overflowing with corpses, with faulty refrigerator making the situation worse, according to a Libyan health official.
The official in Sabha, 650km south of the capital Tripoli, described horrendous scenes of bodies dumped in threes, fives or more at the gates of the Sebha health facility by smugglers.
Migrants arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coastal guards in Tripoli, Libya [Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]
The refugees who died are never identified and many ended being buried without names or proper graves, he said.
The health official, who declined to give his name for security reasons, said Sabha’s morgue has only one dysfunctional refrigerator that can hold bodies for up to three days but end up keeping them for months and on.
“Bodies end up being decomposed inside the refrigerator and often give off foul stench.
“We appealed to the World Health Organization to help us with a new refrigerator but we have yet to receive a positive response from them,” he told Al Jazeera.