Skip to main content

Libyan slave trade feeds on endless supply of migrants

Heavy migration from sub-Saharan Africa combined with rampant lawlessness and poverty in the northwestern and southern regions make the smuggling business irresistible to some Libyans.

Tribal conflict and militia rule continue to be the largest impediments to ending Libya’s smuggling business. Though 252 Nigerian immigrants were repatriated from Libya to their home country on Jan. 9 and a regional African delegation visited detention centers to accelerate deportations from Libya, illegal immigration combined with a lack of rule of law continues to make the trade of Africans a profitable business in Libya.

Recently, the treatment of African migrants, most of whom are sub-Saharan, caught international attention, but the slave trade has been a daily reality for Africans in Libya for over four years, since the start of the second civil war in 2014, when Libya became a route for migrants to reach Europe. “The closing of the route from Libya into Italy in August had no impact on the magnitude or severity of the slave trade. It has been going on for a long time,” Mac K B Simpson, a Ghanaian expert on migration and human trafficking based in Tripoli, told Al-Monitor.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.