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Zuwara, the Libyan city working to stop migrant smuggling

A group of local activists from the Amazigh-majority city of Zuwara in Libya are taking matters into their own hands and working to prevent illegal immigration from the shores of North Africa toward Europe.
Belongings of dead migrants, which were recovered by the Libyan coast guard, are seen after their boat sank off the coastal town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, August 27, 2015. The boat packed with mainly African migrants bound for Italy sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday and officials said up to 200 might have died. Picture taken August 27. REUTERS/Hani Amara  - RTX1PZY3
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“If we want to rebuild the Libyan state, we need to start with protecting human dignity,” said Badis Halab, a 23-year-old member of the At-Wellol Movement (People of Zuwara) in Zuwara, an Amazigh majority port city in northwestern Libya. “So even when we have to struggle for our own life in the Libyan chaos, we cannot ignore refugees and migrants who continue to die at sea in front of our shores,” added Badis.

At-Wellol and Azref (Rights), another civil society movement, are made up of around 30 members, both men and women aged between 20 and 30 years old. The organizations have played a major role in pushing the Zuwara municipality to arrest people who smuggle migrants, an initiative that prevents illegal departures from the 75-kilometer (47-mil) coast of Zuwara in northwest of Libya. The municipality’s official estimates of inhabitants in the Libyan Amazigh city stand at 60,000 people in the area between Ras Jdir on the Tunisian-Libyan border and the city of Sabratah, the first city east of Zuwara. Amazigh, which means “free humans” or “free men,” also known as Berbers, are the indigenous people of North Africa and comprise 5% of the Libyan population.

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