Libya’s “African Mercenary” Problem

A still from a video, reposted on Al-Arabiya, showing the corpse of an "African Mercenary", killed in Benghazi. He wears what appears to be the uniform of Libya's internal security forces.

As I write this, Saif Gaddafi is speaking to a Libyan people who have seemed to have already moved past his father’s regime.  His late and desperate attempt to scare his countrymen into rejecting a revolution which has engulfed his nation touched one element with which, seemingly, those opposing him might agree.  He blamed “crimes” on “Africans, paid by criminals” to kill Libyans.

There is a very widespread and dangerous trope being played upon when Libyans accuse Gaddafi’s crimes of being committed by “African Mercenaries”, hints of which are being picked up in the foreign media.

CNN has just prominently shown a Libyan woman, tear stained, crying out on the newly liberated streets of Egypt.  She calls for justice for her people, for the killing to end, begs Obama to intervene, and then repeats “Gaddafi is killing us with his Africans!”  She is not alone in arranging this revolution between the Libyan people on one side, and Gaddafi, his family, and dark-skinned “outsiders” on the other.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the use of a map, Libyans are Africans.  But Africans here means “black people” and there is a very long very pernicious racism in their part of the world towards “black Africans”, not unlike that in my part of the world.  When I see tweets like the following, I cringe.  I also see a history of fear and contempt slipping out in a time of unparalleled suffering.

Gadafi is ordering african mercenaries to break into homes in #Benghazi to RAPE Libyan women in order to detract men protesters! #Libya #Feb
Khalid Alotaibi

In all honesty, I support the people of Libya’s righteous anger against the brutal Gaddafi regime.  It will not be going out on a limb at this point to say they will succeed, and that the entire region (including Tchad, Mali, & Niger) will be better off without Gaddafi’s almost constant destabilization of his African neighbors.

But like much of northern Africa, in Libya there is a long history of fear, hatred, and oppression based on skin color.  There is a distinct minority of “black” Libyans whose slave origins mean they are still regarded with contempt by some, as there is a large number of political and economic refugees in what is a relatively prosperous state.

#Libya @CNN @CBC. Confirmed the African mercenaries were raised in campus around Sabha and West Mountain since childhood as salves.

Foreign Fighters

And while oppression organized by skin color has a long history,  the Gaddafi regime has contributed a different angle to this prejudice: the foreign fighter.  Since the early 70s, Libya has offered aid, by degrees of openness, to revolutionary and opposition groups in most every corner of the world.  Begun as an extension of Soviet Cold War policy, Gaddafi’s involvement with foreign dissident groups — funded by the oil boom of the 1970s — has extended beyond ideology or geopolitics.  For those of us who remember the Cold War, it’s easy to see a degree of hysteria — almost equal to today’s anti-Islamist hysteria in the west — in the views current in the 1980s that Gadaffi was behind most every threat, from Belfast to Managua.   But to whatever small degree his support was really effective, most  every African nation has seen some of it’s citizens trained in Libyan camps.

Foday Sankoh, Charles Taylor, Moses Blah, Blaise Compaore trained in Libya.   Future Malian and Nigerien Tuareg rebels trained in Libya in the late 70s, recruited from refugees fleeing famine and oppression.  The band Tinariwen actually formed in one such camp.

Libya has developed a sophisticated infrastructure to support rebel groups, based around Tripoli’s “Al-mathaba al-alamiyya…” — “World Center for the fight against Imperialism Racism and Fascism“.  While support offered to leftist militants from Palestine, the Provisional IRA in Ireland, Nicaragua, and, the ANC fighting Apartheid South Africa,  may represent an ideology which matches the admirable title (at least to this leftist), most “Al-mathaba” operations have taken “anti-imperialism” to rather vaguely coincide with Gaddafi and the Libyan elite’s nationalist expansion.

The most famous local manifestation of this was surely the 1970s & 80s Tchadian war. Libya was early to bankroll FROLINAT  and it’s splits. The Soviets (most notably the GDR) helped early in this process, as part of a strategy against the undoubtedly neocolonial French supported government in Tchad.  But Libya had nationalist motivation, in particular the desire to expand control over the Uranium rich Aozou Strip. Gaddafi’s support at times made Hissène Habré and Goukouni Oueddei almost entirely creatures of Libyan policy.  Habré, now endlessly awaiting trial in Senegal for his brutality as Tchadian president, saw the flexibility of Gaddafi’s support, when Goukouni was in turn supported as insurgent leader against Habré’s government.  The U.S. backed Libyan dissidents were later set up in mirror image camps until ejected by a Tchadian ideological shift in 1991.

Since, Libya has most notably hosted Sudanese, Liberian, Sierra Leonian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Tunisian, Egyptian, Tuareg, and Somali rebel groups. There is, in this, little discernible ideological continuity apart from a desire to maintain Libya as a player to be courted by leaders of every troubled nation in the area.

But note from the list above, dissidents hosted in the past by Gaddafi are as likely to be “white” Arabs as “Black Africans.”

RT @iyad_elbaghdadi: Reports that "African mercenaries" are from Chad, Niger, Uganda, Mali, and Burkina Faso #Libya #Feb17
RT @alithelady: RT @KCDalis: @samiyusuf African mercenaries infiltrate every city in Libya, carrying swords to kill.
Halimatu Syadiah

Current numbers are even harder to discern.  Tchadian and Sudanese rebels must be the largest groups still in the country.  But even these are not huge contingents: a few hundred at most.  Some blurry photos and one video show two dozen yellow capped men identified as “African Mercenaries.” Little can actually be discerned from the photos, but assuming the poster is accurate, and these are “black Africans”, and they are working with the security forces, and they are armed, they might be wearing the yellow turbans favored by some Tchadian and Sudanese ethnic Zaghawa and some of the Darfuri Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels.  But that is a lot of ifs.

Foreign Migrants

Large numbers of “Africans” seen in Libyan cities are much more likely to be foreign workers and those trying to reach Europe.  Libya has alternated in support and oppression directed to refugees passing into their country from the south.  These are not all “Black Africans”, but include South Asians and others, many trafficked from Nigeria, through Niger via a brutal desert crossing.  West Africans are periodically outraged by news stories of migrants deported by force, or simply dumped in the desert by Libyan government.  More scandalous are stories of robbery, abuse, and even killing by criminal gangs and (less frequently, but more disturbing) by xenophobic Libyans. Many migrants are locked up in camps across Libya, kept in conditions unmonitored by outsiders.

This has played into some of the “African Mercenary” rumors of the last few days, with reports of ever increasing amounts paid to migrants by Libyan security forces to carry out crimes against civilians.

No one should doubt that there are dark skinned men in the Libyan security forces.  Despite the unspoken assumptions of some Libyans, most are surely their fellow Libyans.  There are also, undoubtedly, foreign born guerrillas under arms in Libya, or former fighters long ago enrolled in the security services.  But again, these cannot be a large number.

Who Pulls the Trigger?

Reports of “African Mercenaries” have become, since 17 February, a staple of Libyan revolutionaries’ news feeds.  We have seen reports, repeated as fact, that almost every time Libyans have been massacred by the state security forces, “Africans” have been to blame.  “Africans” are said to have been flown into Benghazi and Tripoli to protect them for the state, 1300 by one rumor.  A widely quoted report comes from a revolutionary in Ajdabiya  saying: “The regime has sent African forces into the city but we are here waiting in the square of the martyrs. Everyone here is ready to defend the city against the mercenaries. We’ve discovered that these African mercenaries are going to land at Zouitina airport. I can assure you that everybody here is ready to fight against these traitors and African mercenaries.”  Not that he has seen any, but he believes they are coming none the less.

RT @LibyanThinker: URGENT!!! From contact in the Army: So far, 1300 African Mercenaries have arrived in #Libya to date. Cant' the World .
Raul Rodriguez

Photos and videos, many horrific, have been provided of a handful (I have seen five total) dead uniformed soldiers with varying degrees of dark skin.  This is hardly proof of the hysterical rhetoric built around thousands of black Africans raping women and murdering protesters.

More reports, including those showing troops attacking civilians, point to the Army and the internal security forces. The Security Battalions (‘Kataeb al Amn’) include forces directly under the command of Colonel Massud Abdul Hafiz al-Gaddafi. Not only are these groups well armed and trained, they are carefully chosen for loyalty and ideologically motivated. If there is any truth in the “African Mercenaries” rumors, Tchadians or other former foreign guerrillas, long ago integrated into these internal security forces, would be cause. But the Libyan military and security establishment is gigantic: 50,000 regular troops and almost as many reserves, bolstered by recent spending sprees on Russian and other western equipment. It strains credulity that a few hundred, even a few thousand, “black African” mercenaries would be able to enforce submission upon the Libyan people without the participation of these forces.

On twitter, users have dubbed stories of “African Mercenaries” “Confirmed” after Al Arabiya – and later Al Jazeera — reported as unconfirmed the same stories of “African Mercenaries” twitter users had earlier broadcast.  A news agency, I should remind readers, cannot “confirm” a story by reporting that you are saying it.  It would need multiple individual, reliable, first hand sources providing consistent stories of having seen the original event themselves.  We only have inconsistent third hand reports so far.

And this is not the first time recently we have heard such stories.

In Bahrain, where the military opened fire on unarmed protesters with assault riffles, anti-aircraft weapons, and helicopter fire, some locals have accused “Iraqi”, Pakistani” or other mercenaries of having infiltrated the army.  In the recent massacres on Guinea Conakry and Abidjan, victims have blamed Liberian mercenaries for having murdered and raped protesters.  Again and again, as here in Libya, we hear the cry that “no fellow countryman would do this!”  “Gaddafi couldn’t get Libyans to kill Libyans, so he brought Mercenaries”, not Arab mercenaries, not western mercenaries, but those people who resemble the “lowest”, most “foreign” of our fellow citizens.  There have, just today, been a couple of isolated reports that North Koreans were shooting protesters in Libya, but such reports have not gotten the traction that the “African Mercenaries” have.  I must ask why this is?

Flawed Evidence

Apart form those mentioned above, the photographic evidence for “African Mercenaries” include these photos on Flickr.

I cannot help but note some possible problems with images from Libya that are said to be of an identity card carried by a Guinean captured or killed in Benghazi.  The reports are the man was fighting with Libyan government forces against citizens. That there is no direct evidence linking the man on the card with violence might be the first question.

I am not an expert but I am tempted to refer to that old internet meme: “This picture is shopped, I can tell from some of the pixels…” Honestly, my observations are no proof either way, but it raises enough questions to suggest that someone better qualified in photographic forensics should look at these images.

A %600 blowup of the bottom of one of these photos (click for larger)

Note the circled areas in one section of one of the pictures I examined.

1) Unnatural distinct blur marks, the largest in a square shape.
2) Red stamp patterns that don’t conform consistently to the fold mark.
3) The text has been sharpened.  It is dark, consistent, and the background between letters is pixelated, different from the background in other parts of the card, which is smooth.  This may merely be artifacts of a sharpening attempt so the text was made legible.  Or it is an artifact from pasting.
4) This same text lines do not conform to the card where bent.  All such text lines are parallel to one another, where the other text is skewed..
5) Artifacts where the background bleeds through the fingers which are supposed to be in front of it.

All this said, A Guinean legally in Algeria would be expected to carry a consular id card.  Guinean and Canadian government sources confirm this type of ID is issued by Guinean embassies abroad.

NEW! #Gaddafi has given the African Mercenaries full freedom in raping Libyan women. #Libya
The Libyan Thinker

Stabbed in the Back

Everything alleged by the photographer above may be true.  But I hesitate as these stories play into a natural combination of nationalism, existing social prejudices (of low class “slave” “Blacks”) and fears (of foreign looking immigrants, familiar to xenophobic discourse in Europe and America).  They are understandable, but should they go unchallenged in the lore of this revolution, the new Libya being build risks becoming a no less cruel and unjust place, if for a smaller part of its citizens, adjudged outsiders and traitors by their skin color.

African mercenaries now in #Benghazi #Libya sources in Libya say they're chasing and killing people with knives and swords. We only fear God

These phobias of the “other” neglect the horrible reality that Libyans have lived for the last four decades.  They have been oppressed, murdered, tortured and exploited by their fellow Libyans.  It has been said that ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ (A mangled false quotation of Edmond Burke, but I digress.)

The quote perhaps survives because it speaks to what Europe learned in the 20th century: oppressive states survive by fear and collusion.

The most dramatic example of this, the murder of 12 million Jews and others by Nazi Germany in the 1940s, provides some of the most despairingly stark lessons.  For decades, scholars sought some explanation, some psychological profile of those who carried out this mass murder.  I come back again and again to writers like Tim Mason, an historian of resistance and collaboration with the Nazis, and his despair in finding so much of the latter.  Or Chris Browning, whose book “Ordinary Men” showed those who took part in war crimes were neither born monsters, warped sociopaths, or cold ideologues, but victims of the pedestrian social pressures to conform, turned to the most extreme ends.

Libyans: your fellow citizens have enabled this regime to oppress you for so many years. You must come to terms with this in the aftermath of this revolution, or it will be no revolution at all.

But you have already learned the converse: you have the power to stop this oppression.  You are doing it now, and the world, awed by the bravery and audacity in the Arab world this year, stand now amazed by your fearlessness.

But Libyans, you do yourself an injustice with these fears directed at “Africans”. You, in more than one sense, are these Africans.  You cannot build a society of justice by until you learn this.

Please take a look at this VERY useful article focusing on color politics in Libya in the light of these events: Gaddafi is killing us with his Africans! by N. Thompson, published at “My Weku” Magazine, 2011-02-21 A useful look at the immigrant condition in Libya from 2000: Ethnic violence and mass deportations of immigrants in Libya By Trevor Johnson, WSWS 28 October 2000

46 comments for “Libya’s “African Mercenary” Problem

  1. CG
    February 21, 2011 at 3:07 am

    I know black Libyans in prominent positions in companies in Libya, so I don’t fully agree with this point.

    Secondly, the media kept reporting that mercenaries were arriving at the airport, there are two airports in Tripoli. The international to the south and Mitiga a military airport that’s also used for the Hajj in the east of town.

    I also heard it was an Antonov picking up mercenaries in Chad … whether this is true, I’m not entirely sure.

    However, I do know from personal experience less than 6months ago, that Mitiga is heavily guarded. There is no way in unless you have a reason (I did) and even then it’s difficult. I don’t believe that the runway is long enough to take a large Antonov, which is why the Int’l airport was built with a runway of 3600m+

    So how do people know that mercenaries are coming into the country??? It does make me wonder how much of that part of the story is true!!

  2. NT
    February 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    A sensitive subject, but very well dealt with 🙂

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  4. February 22, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Excellent article, articulating many of the concerns I have felt as well.

    Just a note: in Bahrain, it is well recognized and accepted that the ruling family has imported South Asians and other Arabs in order to skew the confessional balance in their favor (from Shia to Sunni).

  5. Arab
    February 22, 2011 at 5:51 am

    A purely manufactured controversy. Libyans have also reported that there are European mercenaries and you conveniently forget that because it doesn’t suit your racism agenda. The point of making it known that they are African is identification, it has nothing to do with skin color ( a classic case of projection of Western biases), but with identifying a threat (based on language, since “African” denotes a non-Arabic speaking person from the continent rather than a black person as you seem to think). Libyans are more than aware that there are Libyans killing them, after all fighter jets are not being flown by mercenaries nor is the elite army corps that is headed by Gaddafi’s son a foreign one. You would have served yourself better if at this time of great distress for the Libyan people, you remained silent until all the events are known, rather than push an agenda to insult people fighting and dying for their liberty based on nothing but speculation.

  6. T. Miles
    February 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Good point: that has indeed been a widely reported policy of the royal government. Also, given the size of the nation, the “foreign” nature of some of the security forces seems even more likely.

    Indeed the Libyan rumors may prove correct. Buy right now they are rumors, and ones which give a really inaccurate impression that Libyans are united, and being oppressed by one family and their ‘foreigners’. This is much like some Germans after WWII trying to blame everything on Hitler: a single madman made us do it! You don’t need to look at the history too closely, cause he was just crazy!

    It really is troubling myth to teach the next generation.

    It’s, more relevantly perhaps, like Tunisia & Egypt, the revolution is not over until there is some look at all the “late-comers” to the revolution, and their removal from power. This need not be violent (look at the truth & reconciliation model in South Africa).

    But this notion that the enemies are all outside and not within is dangerous. This, to address the other commentator, is why Libyans should (and I think most do) care about truth over rumor, especially as brave people are dying for their future!

  7. February 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Thank you so much for raising this issue, I came to your blog through the Guardian. I have sent an open letter to Al Jazeera about the coverage of African mercenaries and the ignored Africa angle of this story. I will link to your blog later in an update post. You can read my open letter here. Please help by circulating it on Twitter.

  8. ikkarus
    February 23, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Brown racism against blacks is a rampant problem. As someone of South Asian decent, I have seen too many conversations where the inferiority of the black wild uncivilised African is taken for granted. Partly, I do not see why this should be treated as a ‘sensitive’ issue. Racism is to be condemned. From any sector. Those blacks are raping ‘our’ women is not a sentiment worth sensitive treatment!

  9. Duncan Hill
    February 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    A non-story really. When a Libyan says “African”, they mean non-Arab people from Africa, who just happen to be mostly black. Maybe you didn’t know, but Arabs are from the Middle East, not native to Africa. Nothing to do with racism.

  10. andria
    February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    i have see the mercenries and most of them look like their frm niger, nigeria and chad wearing blue and black uniform with yellow hats they shot a15 month baby this is not abt colour but indeed about orders give by the libyan leader most people are saing that the mercenarys are doing it for money as most of my family are black and we are from libya, the brown libyans would get confused and end up shoting their own black libyan people so i think is a matter of war on the gready mercenarys who r getting paid for all of and nt racism.

  11. Sandy Synge
    February 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Doubts arose reading blogs etc. in Italy about the truthfulness of the story. As for the beach burials, it has been suggested that this is old footage given the many accidents with migrants. No grief seen, graves carefully dug etc. Electronic format info, as pointed out, can be seeded very easily and cannot be trusted AT ALL. But there is a point I don’t think has been tackled. If there are mercenaries in action in Libya, who’s to say they’re working for Gadaffi and not for powers or interests wishing to generate outrage both inside and outside the country?

  12. Anonymous
    February 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    For all the talk about this merecenary force there has been no factual evidence. It has all been based on hearsay and third hand information. No one in the media has seen all interviwed any of these foreign fighters. The media has just run with this story without verifying any of its sources. When you take into account that the same media peddled the weapons of mass destruction lie, it is no surprise that they just regurgitate the official line.

    It was claimed that these fighters spoke French and not Arabic, However those captured and interrogated by the lynch mob liberators spoke Arabic and not French. Some of the claims sound ridiculous
    4,000 Ghanian troops flown in at night. Where were they recruited from. Ghana may be poor but it is stable. There has been no civil strife there since the eighties.

    Those captured appear to be black libyans who were the foot soldiers of the regime brought in from other regions in the country. I wish a lot of these claims were verified before giving carte blanche to the rabble that calls itself liberators to kill anyone with a dark skin.

    Libya has a history of racism and this wild but unsubtantiated claim has united the so called freedom fighters. Spreading half truths and condemning people without due process is a good start. What next genocide ? I read that Somali refugees were living in fear because they did not want to be mistaken for mercenaries. This African mercenary force is going to be used as justification for more hate and racism. If you don’t speak Arabic you are a mercenary, if you do then you will still be lynched anyway if you are black.Also the displaying of so many passports simply does not add up. It sounds like classic scapegoating.

    Anyway if there is one good thing to come out of this then all those brain dead Western blacks who convert to Islam and sound so smart, and African muslims who identify more with Arabs than their fellow countrymen will realise that race still matters. So think carefully and remember Libya before you volunteer for some fake Islamic caurse or terrorist group.

  13. T. Miles
    February 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I think this has exactly nothing to do with Islam. There are literally millions of very proud, very self-aware African Muslims. One of the first converts to Islam, the man who performed the very first call to prayer, was a freed African former slave.

    Reductive logic is the enemy of humanist values. This goes for religion, language, gender and skin color. Trading one for another is renaming the deck chairs on the Titanic…

  14. Ras DIALLO
    February 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm


  15. D.
    February 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    So it’s okay to say that “Arabs” are killing “Black Africans” in Sudan, but a big no-no to say that “Black Africans” are killing “Arabs” in Libya?

    By the way, in the case of Sudan, the so called “Arabs” are black. Members in the Janjaweed militia is black. But you never saw that in Western media.

  16. T. Miles
    February 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    An old friend once told me “he who argues with the village idiot assumes the position.”

    So I’ll leave it with: we should always speak the truth, but we should think before we speak. And we should examine carefully those things we assume to be the truth without thinking.

  17. Dad N
    February 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I was a amazed that the BBC news allowed a broadcast in which a Libyan woman who was describing mercenaries who had shot her friend said, “They are not human beings, they are gorillas!”
    I nearly fell off my stool! Racism, yes – but understandable in the circumstances.

  18. mamadou
    February 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    i would like to say that Guinean people cannot do things like this but if this is a true images this sould come from the new government

  19. Ye
    March 1, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Sorry for the dead African. I’m sure he died by the lack of opportunity in his own country. We only see this Guinea man, but if you check carefully you will see all those African country(pro- Muslim).

    [Removed portions of this anti-Muslim screed – TM]

    Kadaffi is pure Killer and opportunistic and Big trouble maker for Africans Nations.
    I hope the Lybians people judge him. I hope this will be the beggining for Africans to distance themselve from those Arabic Islamic countries.

    Please Africans learn from What happened from all those countries where lead by Ideology which not valuable for US.

  20. smfr
    March 3, 2011 at 7:11 am

    About these alleged mercenary’s documents: what seems strange to me, is that the stamp is under the photo, not on it. What’s the sense of person’s photo on a document, if it is not stamped?

  21. March 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I find it strange that any Arab in north Africa can simply just say “No, were not Africans, were from the Middle East”. First of all the “middle east” is a made up geographical term by the West for foreign policy purposes. Second of your’re “Arab” because its an ethnicity, its passed down from parents to child. Anyone can be in African, if you on/live on the African continent you are an African. If you love the middle east so much, then you ancestors shouldn’t have colonized the “Africans” and they forced from their land. Accept that you (Arabs) have are now stewards of a Continent of over a billion people. There all different, they are all Africans. Don’t shame yourself.

  22. TB
    March 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I finally got a call from a Libyan friend who is stuck in Misrata with his family. He told me there are large groups of mercenaries roaming the streets, shooting anyone they see and breaking into houses looking for others to do the same. He said they are mostly black Africans bit also some Algerians. Bombs are dropping all around the town and no-one knows how long they can hold out, living in fear for their lives on round-the-clock basis. Food supplies are running low and they are almost spent out, even if they got lucky and found food to buy. The anger against the mad dog Gadaffi clan is high and they are begging for someone to help them in their hour of need. Meanwhile America and Europe twiddle their thumbs and talk – and talk.

  23. TB
    March 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    By the way, in my last posting, I mentioned the lack of Euro/USA responses to the needs of ordinary Libyans. I should also mention that I think the Arabs are also strangely muted on this subject. Forget the Gulf States, they are now going through various stages of dissent as seen recently in Egypt and Tunisia. OK this is rather simplistic but why couldn’t Egypt step into the breech and go over the border, sort this lot out and do the world (and the Libyan populace) an enormous favour? The Egyptian army is the biggest in the Mid East and Africa and is the 10th largest in the world. It would help to reassert them as a regional leader and show their own people that they care more about people than they do about lining their pockets.

  24. TB
    March 15, 2011 at 6:15 am

    There were many continental Africans living and working in Libya before the current troubles started. Although many have fled the country, there are still many living and hiding there. They are probably stuck for various reasons, the most likely is not being able to escape Gaddafi’s brutal onslaught without exposing themselves to either government forces, armed rebels or ordinary Libyans who view them as a potential threat. I have a couple friends still there in Tripoli (from Ghana) and I am amazed that they can survive, given these conditions. The presence of Africans in Libya poses a question though – how come there were so many in the first place? While I was there last year, there were large crowds of Africans on every street corner, touting for manual work. It always appeared to me that those in employment were outnumbered by about 10-1 to the guys in the street who were waiting for work. It appears to me that they were victims of Gaddafi’s promises of work for all. I believe this all started during the 20 years of sanctions and isolation, when Gaddafi had few friends, even amongst the brother Arab nations. In order to prevent a total sense of isolation, Gaddafi turned to his African neighbours for support and a dubious sense of credibility. The deal he struck was the rather superficial support of African nations,, and they in return, asked for employment opportunities for their own people in the oil-rich state of Libya. No doubt there were many other conditions, but I see this development accounting for the high proportion of Africans who lived in Libya up until recently. Another contributing factor may also be that economic migrants found it easy to use Libya as staging post, and eventually a springboard into Europe, via Malta and Italy.

    One question posed on another website recently was – what will become of those Africans stuck in Libya once the fighting ceases, who ever wins. Not an easy answer to that one – I fear the worst but hope for the best. Especially if Gaddafi’s thugs are still in control. They are not known for common sense or compassion at the best of times.

  25. December 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

    This article points out the corruption and devastation in this country. It is so hard to read this but my hope is that people will become informed on these problems and more will reach out to help the innocent people. I work for a non-profit in Africa that helps provide education to children who do not have that opportunity. I believe education is a great way to get the children off the streets and provide them with a better future free from violence and crime. I do believe Africa can be a peaceful country this article points out a lot of areas where things definitely need to change.

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