Is Libya a Hotspot for Human Trafficking?

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The Situation

Libya is at the core of human trafficking activity in Africa. The majority of people are trafficked from West & East Africa, Syria and Bangladesh.

  • The current political situation in Libya has enabled armed gangs and militia to control human trafficking activity
  • Some detention centres are hotbeds of abuse. People are being temporarily sold into forced labour, prostitution and domestic servitude then returned to the centres to be exploited again.
  • Sometimes guards facilitate the exploitation.
  • Members of the diaspora from source countries are frequently involved in the abuse.

What happens?

Sometimes, people believe they know the risks but do not realise they will be:

  • Forced into prostitution and receive no payment
  • Sold into forced labour
  • Exploited in Libya for months before being put onto unsafe boats bound for Europe
  • Detained and tortured until a ransom is paid
  • Potentially left to die in the Sahara desert
  • Subjected to continuous physical and sexual abuse throughout their journey

In Europe

Europe is not the ‘paradise’ that some believe. Once there, control is achieved through:Clenched fist and scared woman show physical abuse and control

  • Physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • Confiscation of identity documents and restriction of movement
  • Debt bondage
  • Threats of violence to family members
  • Juju oaths
  • Unfounded threats of being deported by immigration agencies

Often, individuals reaching Europe send false stories of ‘paradise’ back to families and friends. They are forced to do this through the control methods listed above.

If you suspect human trafficking

Photo of woman holding a smartphone


Please report anything suspicious to the UNHCR refugee hotline: +218 91 989 7936

What can you do?


Here are some examples of campaign posts in Sabha, Gharyan, and Tripoli. These provided intelligence on the core human trafficking issues within Libya.

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