Libya At the Centre of Fresh Fears of Slave Trade

A man from Eritrea walks along the road after leaving a Red Cross Caritas camp set up for migrants in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia, Italy, Oct. 13, 2016

Tripoli — THE worsening situation for migrants and refugees in Libya has raised fresh fears of slave trade rearing its ugly head again in the troubled north African nation.

The fears by human rights groups come in the wake of the deteriorating outlook for these vulnerable communities exactly a year after images purporting to show human beings being bought and sold in Libya caused a global outcry.

"One year after video footage showing human beings being bought and sold like merchandise shocked the world, the situation for refugees and migrants in Libya remains bleak," said Heba Morayef, regional director for Amnesty International.

Findings published by the organisation highlight how European Union (EU) member states' policies to curb migration, as well as their failure to provide sufficient resettlement places for refugees, continued to fuel a cycle of abuse by trapping thousands of migrants and refugees in appalling conditions in Libyan detention centres.

"Cruel policies by EU states to stop people arriving on European shores, coupled with their woefully insufficient support to help refugees reach safety through regular routes, means that thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out," Morayef said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered some 56 500 refugees and asylum seekers in the restive North African country, which despite its political crisis remains a gateway to Europe by sea.

Armed clashes ongoing in the capital Tripoli have also made the situation for refugees and migrants more dangerous.

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