Trafficked migrants face violence and death en-route to EuropeListen /
African migrants and asylum seekers face inhuman and degrading treatment in the hands of human traffickers in their perilous journey across the Mediterranean sea into Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
African migrants rescued by the Italian Navy last Saturday have spoken of being subjected to racial discrimination, beaten with knives, crammed into small spaces on the boat and being denied life jackets by Libyan human traffickers.
The boat is reported to have been carrying in excess of 750 people but only 569 were rescued.
There are also reports of violent clashes on board the boat in which several migrants were killed and thrown overboard.
IOM says migrants from Africa were paying up to $900 for the journey to Europe, while Syrians were paying twice that amount.
Flavio Di Giacomo is IOM's spokesperson in Rome.
“They came from Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast and Gambia. these people are very young, they were between 18-20 to 24 years old. They are young people who try to seek a better life first in Libya and then Europe. Many of the people told me that they were felling from violence at home. For example some Nigerians who are from Kaduna told me that they were fleeing from Boko Haram. there were people who left Mali over one year ago. they didn’t know that their friends were missing. so we had to tell the migrants that those who were not with them were probably missing or dead. so they were really traumatized. they were sent like lambs to the slaughter. its a terrible story of racism suffering and pain.”
IOM is urging the international community to offer alternatives to those who risk their lives at sea including providing legal channels to Europe for migrants seeking international protection.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.