Trapped Black African Migrant Workers Face Doom In Libya Conflict

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[Global Commentary: Libya]

Black African migrants in Libya are in desperate need of relief and assistance. They are caught between the rock of Qaddafi loyalists guarding the borders and checkpoints and relieving them of what little money they possess and the hard place of the opposition forces who unfairly deem them as the mercenaries recruited by Qaddafi to put down the uprising.

Many of these migrants are from sub-Saharan Africa, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria, and are trapped between contending forces with few options of rescue, food, and medical supplies. It has been reported that these migrants comprise more than 1.5 million of the so-called "illegal immigrants" in Libya. Needless to say, they have been pivotal to the infrastructure of Libya, particularly as laborers in construction and sanitation work.

Bereft of funds, they cannot afford to pay for flights out of the country, and even if they could, many of them have no passports or travel documents. In effect, they have been deserted by their home governments and the turmoil across Libya has left them no recourse from the Libyan government.

Meanwhile, international aid groups have been all but stifled in its attempts to rescue the migrants in Tripoli, a good number of them packed desperately in the crowded terminals at the airport.

Compounding the situation is the traditional racism and xenophobia that is a common practice among Libyans who often relegate the darker-skinned residents to a slave status. Even so, the presence of Black mercenaries who possess no ethnic sympathies and at the beck and call of Qaddafi has made their situation all the more perilous.

It is easy to speculate that things are certain to get worse before they get better, and the worst circumstances loom as the food supply diminishes, the medical supplies become even scarcer, and even the possibility of decent drinking water is no longer available. The Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross, is apparently doing all that it can to salvage some of the migrants on the verge of starvation, but with each day the situation becomes more chaotic and unmanageable.

Communication is also problem since the government—in order to minimize the uprising—has confiscated all cell phones making it virtually impossible for the migrants to contact their relatives who are eager to know the condition of their loved ones. Until things simmer down in Libya those waiting for relief are caught in a quandary, and there appears to be little hope of mercy from Qaddafi who seems determine to be the martyr and to take thousands with him.  

Black Star News Editor's Call: Dear readers this is a moment when YOU can make a difference. Please e-mail this article to all your contacts and urge them to do the same. This is an International Emergency. The United Nations Security Council was very quick to hold a special session to call for sanctions on Libya when the conflict started. Yet where is the Security Council today when it comes to the fate of these innocent Africans caught in the middle of conflict? Please call Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in the U.S. Congress at (202) 225-4535 and urge him to hold a press conference and call for an international rescue mission, with the approval of the Libyan government in Tripoli, to save these innocent Africans and return them to their countries.
It's a shameful testament when the African Union or major African countries can't take the lead on this crisis. But those starving and stranded folks can't wait--and as the writer showed, soon food and water may run out. Since the Libyan government and the U.S. Administration have hostile relations at this time, neutral countries such as South Africa and Sweden could be involved in the effort. Also call Rep. Maxine Waters, who cares dearly about Africa, at  (202) 225-2201 and urge her through her spokesperson Sean Barttlett to help publicize the plight of these Africans and mobilize support for the rescue. Also call Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP at (410) 580-5777 and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League at (212) 558-5300.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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