By a MENA Solidarity Network contributor
For two weeks now, thousands of African immigrants and refugees have been standing together in front of the headquarters of UNHCR Libya demanding their immediate evacuation from Libya.
For too long, we closed our hearts and eyes in front of the horrible sufferings of our brothers and sisters: images of slave auctions, reports of abuses, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, forced labour, murder and the deaths in the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert. Some of us listened to our governments’ pretending that all this suffering is necessary to prevent more people coming from Africa pushing down wages and conditions, threatening our ‘way of life’.
But the same governments are also supporting the looting of African resources and wealth on the part of powerful multinational corporations. They are fostering the conflicts, wars and ecological predation that force so many to leave. In Libya, they imposed this order through war and destruction, and by empowering corrupt politicians and armed militias involved in the business of detention and forced labour, as well as the trafficking of weapons, oil and human beings.
The militarization of the Mediterranean and the millions paid by the EU and the UK government to support the Libyan coastguard and detention centres have strengthened the business of detention and forced labour. Even if not all immigrants and refugees wanted to go to Europe in the first place, they cannot find secure conditions in Libya or safe transit to Europe or their countries of origin. They are trapped in a terrible system of violence and exploitation.
From the beginning of October, the authorities in western Libya carried out a brutal crackdown in Gargaresh, a town inhabited by thousands of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They arrested more than 5,000 immigrants and refugees, destroying their homes, capturing and splitting up families, hurting, violating and even killing some of them.
Thousands of immigrants and refugees camped in front of UNHCR Libya are asking for their release and for their immediate evacuation from the country. They are asking for the support of the African Union and of their brothers and sisters around the world.
UNHCR Libya is arguing they don’t have the capacity to evacuate them. The EU and the UK government are silent, despite their deep involvement and responsibilities. They are delegating to the Libyan Ministry of Interior, who is trying to terrorize the protesters back into captivity. Yesterday, a Sudanese refugee was beaten and shot in the presence of other immigrants and refugees by forces of the Ministry of Interior.
We cannot continue to be silent. We need to amplify the voices of immigrants and refugees in Libya and their struggle for freedom.
We say Black Lives Matter everywhere and must be defended everywhere.
We need to denounce the complicity of our governments and demand they stop supporting the predation of African resources and withdraw their support to the Libyan government.
Stop funding and training the Libyan coastguard, demilitarize the Mediterranean
Offer more resettlement opportunities and facilitate the safe passage out of Libya
What you can do:
- Join the demonstration organized by Global Yakl on Friday 15 October at 1pm in front of UNHCR London office, 10 Furnival street, London EC4E 1AB