Plight of sub-Saharan Africans in Libya

The BBC reports:

“Justice” does not know where the young men came from nor whose side they were on.

All he knows is that they were aggressive and demanding money. When he tried to tell them he had nothing to give them, not a penny, they stabbed him in the stomach and then they sped away.

Justice, a Nigerian in his early 50s, is lucky to be alive. He was treated in a Tripoli clinic and now has a huge scar across his stomach.

Like thousands of sub-Saharan Africans, he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when Libya’s civil conflict erupted earlier this year.

Many Africans were accused by pro-Gaddafi loyalists and by the opposition rebels of being paid mercenaries, and were persecuted for that.

While, there is evidence that many so-called foreigners did take up arms in this conflict, the vast majority were unjustly accused and now find themselves trapped in a foreign land without money and with few friends.

The group of as many as 2,000 Africans I came across were living in a dilapidated fishing port on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Sleeping in disused warehouses or under the meagre shade given by abandoned fishing boats, Ghanaians, Malians, Nigerians and many others told of their desperation.

“We need help,” said a 24-year-old Ghanaian man.

He denied accusations that some people at the camp had been fighters but readily admitted that many were immigrants who had come to Libya in recent years looking for work.

“We are poor, with no food and it’s so dangerous that the men here don’t sleep at night,” said the man.

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