Published November 18, 2011
The abandoned port of Janzour, outside Tripoli, is now a makeshift refugee camp. About 1,000 sub-Saharan Africans have sought refuge here, escaping, racially charged revenge attacks from Libyans, collective punishment for the Qaddafi regime's use of African mercenaries. These people are not mercenaries, but guest workers from places like Nigeria, Gambia, Benin, Sierra Leone. Bread-winners in large families, they have been living and working in Libya for years.
Some have been here for five months and counting, sleeping under broken boats. They have been assaulted and press-ganged into performing day labor for little or no money. Women have been raped and continue to complain of sexual assault and robbery. The new government has done little to improve their situation. The International Organization for Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees are trying to help, but these organizations have had difficulties obtaining proper documentation for those who wish to return to their home countries.