How do migrant children fall into the “slavery trap” in Libya? #We lie in the details of “Ballad”

Illegal immigration is one of the problems that plagues governments in Libya since the fall of the regime of former President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and it is a crisis that casts a shadow on neighboring countries, as they were also affected by this phenomenon, which crosses the land and sea borders of Libya towards the European continent. Matters become even worse if these immigrants are children under the age of 17 who entered the country without their parents, raising fears that they will be exposed to sexual and professional exploitation in an unstable security and political state.

Last Tuesday, an illegal immigration agency in the eastern region intercepted a sea voyage bound for Italy from Libyan territorial waters, carrying a palace of undocumented immigrants, whose nationalities vary between Egyptian and Syrian.

And the branch of the agency in the city of Shahat (east of the country) confirmed on its official Facebook page that “security services in the city of Tobruk managed to thwart the smuggling of more than 500 immigrants, including a large number of minors, last Tuesday. children, without announcing the gangs behind them.” behind this process.

In September last year, the same source released a video clip showing security services finding 287 Egyptian immigrants, including more than 70 children, who had been rounded up in smugglers’ warehouses until it was time to smuggle them to the Italian coast, according to information that came from some of them in a video clip that “Independent Arabia” watched on the official website of the Agency for Combating Illegal Immigration in Shahat.

paid by their families

Migrant children confirmed to Libya 24 news agency in Tobruk that they boarded the death ships with the knowledge of their families, including 14-year-old Egyptian child Carlos Shenouda, who said his family paid for the trip from Egypt to Libya, noting that ” it was his father who led him to the person responsible for the smuggling operation that was taking place across the common land border between the two countries.”

Ziad Adawy, another Egyptian, no more than 12 years old, explained that “the cost of his arrival from Assiut, Egypt, to Libya, to continue by sea to Italian territories, was 120,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,800).”

Another child migrant adds that they had to walk 50 kilometers without food or water, moving between six warehouses that the mafia of people smugglers used to detain them until they were smuggled across the coast of the Libyan Sea to Italy, noting that they were beaten and humiliated during captivity, according to Talk to him directly from the port of Tobruk.

The number is increasing

Commenting on the increase in child migration, Tarek Lamloum, an activist in the field of illegal immigration and head of the human rights organization Belady, told The Independent Arabia, “This phenomenon has increased between 2021 and 2022, due to Syrian children entering through the Benin airport in eastern Libya. In coordination with smugglers from Damascus, they organized flights for them from Syria to Benghazi via the Syrian Cham Wings Airlines, which still flies to the Libyan east today.

Lamloum continued: “The flow of minor Egyptian children entering from the Egyptian-Libyan border still continues, although their stay in Libya is short-lived, as they are deported by land within days to their country in case their location of detention is revealed by the agency for illegal immigration.”

sexual exploitation

Regarding violations against unaccompanied migrant children, the head of the human rights organization “Biladi” said: “Their crisis begins when they enter the Libyan desert. For example, they are exploited inside detention warehouses, which are widespread especially in the city of Sebha on in the south of the country, as well as in the city of Kufra and farms in the region.” Tazerbo is in the southeast, where underage girls are often imprisoned, and their suffering begins by keeping their identity documents, if any, and then employing them as domestic workers, without any legal guarantees, in exchange for the smuggling mafia to use their wages.

Lamloum continued: “Sexual exploitation of underage children (girls or boys) is widespread even within centers linked to the Libyan governments, as the Belady Human Rights Foundation tracked in 2018 the sexual exploitation of four underage girls from different African countries working in an official detention center center linked to the Libyan state, where they were forced to have prolonged sex in exchange for later release.

trade members

Commenting on the possibility of unaccompanied migrant children falling into the trap of human organ trafficking, Lamloum explained: “So far there is no indication or evidence of the existence of human organ trafficking in Libya, despite the existence of more outrageous crimes such as the mass killing of migrants with guns or burning, especially minor children.” Where they take advantage of their condition as adults in the practice of hard labor and denial of the right to education.

He emphasized that “migrant children are the most exposed to sexual exploitation, because we monitored dozens of cases of rape and sexual harassment in state asylum centers, and despite this, no security investigation was initiated in this regard, nor was any psychological support provided to them. let alone the practices that take place inside secret warehouses.” “.

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To find out about the problem of the exploitation of unaccompanied migrant children, The Independent Arabia contacted the head of the Agency for Combating Illegal Migration in Libya, Brigadier General Muhammad Belkhoja, who described reports by human rights institutions interested in the file as “non-objective”, indicating to the fact that the agency in Tripoli recently provided a model center for minor children, those who lost their families in the area of ​​Zawiyat al-Dahmani in the capital of Libya.

Asked about the conditions in which minor immigrants are in the east and south of Libya, the head of the Agency for Suppression of Illegal Immigration in Libya was satisfied with the statement that “there is not enough information about them, considering that the Agency for Suppression of Illegal Immigration was united at the end of last month.”

Sale of migrant children

One of the officials of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency, Derna branch, said that the city was suffering in silence, indicating that contact had been made with the head of the agency, Muhammad Balkhuja, but that their demands had not found a way to be met. them, on top of which is the allocation of headquarters for the agency or a place to accommodate immigrants in Derna or cars.. To carry out raids on smuggling dens for which the city is an exhaust valve for this.

The police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “In the past period, we have rounded up more than 150 illegal immigrants, some of whom carry serious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, including almost 70 unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 17. . Others are almost four days on the pavement in the open without eating.” Because of the refusal of the mayor of Derna to provide meals to these minor children and other irregular immigrants.

He continued: “Several times he saw immigrant children being sold by the smuggling mafia to blacksmith shops or farms as slaves, but he could not intervene to protect them due to the lack of logistical equipment (raiding cars, workplace, shelter center and financial budget ) and his exposure to threats in Multiple times, these gangs have become a practice of selling migrant children in front of everyone.”

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