Migration Media Award: Second place, Print Category, French
Author: Bennour Hussein
Media: Dune Voices, LIBYA
Date of Publication: 7/2/2017
Title: The Suffering of Migrants in the Camps of Gharyan in Libya
Short summary: Up to 2000 migrants of African origin enter Libya each week. Once in Libya, these men and women are victims of mistreatment by smugglers, traffickers, militias and security forces. Entering irregularly is a criminal offence under Libyan law that does not recognise refugee status, hence the systematic placements in detention. There are about 20 such centres in Libya, officially under the responsibility of the government, but some under the responsibility of the armed bands. Journalist, Hussein Bennour, who is working under a pseudonym in Libya for security reasons, has gained exclusive access to the centre of Bou Rchada in Gharyan, where the daily life of migrants is ill-treated. One can imagine, however, that this camp is better off than others since access to it has been authorised. Testimony of migrants who have managed to leave these camps speaks of torture and executions. Hussein Bennour was able to speak to detainees from Eritrea.
By 2015 Eritreans were the main group of migrants to cross the Mediterranean, the second behind the Nigerians in 2016. They leave their country to escape poverty and compulsory military service, which is like a form of slavery. 5,000 people flee Eritrea every month. For them, joining Europe through the Sahara and Libya is the only option. When this trip stops in a Libyan camp they feel that they have swapped one hell for another. For years, there has been an endemic violence of the Libyan authorities towards migrants, without respect for human life. Unlimited detention in the camps is regularly denounced by human rights organisations.
François, jeune Erythréen de 24 ans, ne s’imaginait pas qu’il finirait coincé dans un camp de réfugiés en Libye. Quand il a payé les 600 dollars réclamés par l’intermédiaire contre la promesse d’un transit sûr qui ne devait pas durer plus d’un mois, la Libye n’était pour lui qu’une simple étape sur le chemin de l’Europe.