M., victim of torture and labour exploitation in Libya
Included in Yuen, Chapter 13 of the volume
M. is a young university student. He's the only son and the main breadwinner of his family since his father died. Having completed his studies, M. had to defend his thesis to graduate. However, as he had no means to pay for the cost related to his thesis, he decided to go to France with the hope of earning enough money to complete his studies.
He started his journey by going to Mali. There he met a person at the bus station who promised to connect him with another person who could facilitate his trip to Algeria at the cost of USD 250. M. paid him and embarked on the bus to Agadez, the Niger. Upon arrival in Agadez, M. was picked up by the smuggler and spent a week waiting at the smuggler’s place. After they agreed on the transportation price to Algeria (USD 550), M. joined a group of about 152 persons at a meeting place and they departed in pickup trucks or smaller vehicles around 2 a.m. The journey took about 12 days due to frequent vehicle breakdowns in the desert. Two Nigerian girls and one Ghanaian man in their group passed away during the journey due to lack of water.
When they finally reached a paved road, M. overheard someone mentioning Libya and understood that they had not been on the road to Algeria, as he was initially promised. He had no other option but to continue.
Once the group reach Sabha, the driver brought them to the detention space in the desert, where all of them were locked into a container until they were transferred to a prison controlled by bandits. The boss of the prison, a Ghanaian man, informed them that they had all been sold and that they must call their families or their smugglers to ask for money to be released. M. called his smuggler, who instructed him to call his family instead, claiming he had nothing to do with his situation.
M. was tortured regularly. He was beaten three times a day was not given food until the evening of the 6th day at the prison. M. sustained many injuries from the beatings. At one point, he was unable to walk for 2 weeks.
After 3 months in detention, M.’s family paid the ransom of USD 1300 by money transfer. However, the bandits still refused to release him.
One day, M. decided to escape after he was informed by another man who overheard a conversation between the prison boss and another person of their plans to sell M. When the gate was left open, M. ran away. He ran to a construction site where he was eventually helped by the Guinean community to go to a hospital in Murzuq to receive treatment for his injuries. During his recovery in Murzuq, a man from Guinea-Bissau helped .M to find transportations to Agadez. Upon arrival at Agadez, M. went to the IOM transit centre.