Libya – The conflict we forgot about

The battle between whether or not Europe’s borders should be open for immigrants has been a continuous war between political parties. Over the years governments have been limiting the numbers of immigrants allowed to cross the boarder of European countries such as Italy. However, the people of these war torn countries are desperate, and therefore forced to rely on people smugglers who charge an extortionate fee for the service. In 2015, a statement was made by Italian leaders stating that they would allow a more even distribution of refugees to pass the border more safely without resorting to illegal people smuggling, since then we have seen no major change.

In London’s most recent news the topics have been centered around the prolific slave trade in Libya. Many of these people were caught trying to escape the country and start a new life in Europe, but as it becomes increasingly difficult to leave, those without the means to pay for safe passage, end up stuck in a vicious trade cycle.

Video footage of Libyan citizens being auctioned for less than $400 were released Mid November by CNN. The footage brought to light the conditions and concerns for migrants who try, but fail, to escape the borders.The EU have forged a plan to launch “concrete military action” with additional humanitarian aid to maintain stability of the region. However, it is difficult to forget that just 2 years earlier the EU were propping up detention centers with funding and training to ensure desperate migrants did not leave the war torn region.

Libya is the perfect destination for these ‘slave masters’ because of the perpetual flow of Africans trying to travel to Europe by sea. It has been estimated that more than 1000 people try to cross the Mediterranean Sea every few months. To try and mitigate the crisis, the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya”. Although. Rwanda has offered a very generous offer, it is quite clear to say that it may not be the best option, below are three reasons why.

Despite the abundance of natural resources, Rwanda is currently over populated with a population of 11.2million – with 57% of people living below the poverty line.The most immediate argument AGAINST sending the Libyan citizens to Rwanda is the fact that the people within Rwanda are already physically and mentally abused. Like many African countries today, corruption continues to tear the country apart.Government Protection and healthcare is scarce, which only serves to exacerbate the devastating impact of poverty and HIV/Aids on Rwanda’s development.

Many disagree with the idea of migrating the victims of the slave trade to a country that is already overwhelmed by its native population, while others have applauded the country for taking immediate action to help those in desperate need. But one issue about the whole tragedy is the lack of coverage by economically stable nations. This is what provoked the people of London to create a petition in order for the UK government to have a more active role in securing the stability of the region. It seems the conflict is beginning to get more attention on the global stage with celebrities such as Giggs getting involved on twitter by sharing a petition started by Constance Mbassi which led to a further 10,000 signatures.

Even though our governments have been slow to respond, people with prominent platforms are helping keep the story relevant, and hopefully this will lead to an organised effort to stop the suffering of the Libyan people.


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