Story

Outsourcing the Dirty Work

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Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Migrants from Senegal, Mali, and Niger, confined within their overcrowded cell at the Nasr detention center in Zawiya, Libya. The vast majority of those who find themselves at the Nasr center were intercepted at sea by the Libyan coastguard. At the time that this photo was taken, some had been locked-up for weeks. Others had been perishing there for months. The coast guard units and militias that captured them are nominally allied with Libya’s U.N.-backed government based in Tripoli, but in practice they answer to no one. These migrants now find themselves caught in a detention-industrial complex, funded and supported by the European Union, in which migrants and asylum seekers are hunted down by militias loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed government, caged in overcrowded prisons, and sold on open markets that human rights advocates have likened to slave auctions. Read more about Europe's efforts to work with militias in Libya in order to counter migration in Part III of FP's special, five-part investigation into Europe's response to the migration crisis: "Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul." Read more here.

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Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

A toddler from Nigeria, whose mother decided to make the journey shortly after she was born, naps at the Nasr detention center in Zawiya, Libya. Her mother paid one group of smugglers in Niger to transit them across the Sahara into Libya. Once in Libya, they paid smugglers to put them on a boat to Europe. Then they were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard. Read more about Europe's efforts to fight migration by working with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli, and the militias loyal to it, in Part III of FP's special, five-part investigation into Europe's response to the migration crisis: "Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul." Read more here.

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Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

“I just want to know if I had a boy or girl,” said Abdullah Bashir Umar (left), a slight man in his early 30s with a calm demeanor and expressive eyes. Abdullah says he came to Libya legally from his native Niger almost a decade ago, during a time when the Qaddafi regime tacitly encouraged labor migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya. Although he had no aspirations to go to Europe, Abdullah was caught in the dragnet of Libya’s crackdown on irregular migration which targets “black Africans” regardless of their immigration status, and is underwritten by the European Union and individual EU member states. At the time this photo was taken, he had not been able to contact his wife, 8 months pregnant at the time of his arrest, during the weeks he has been detained in a filthy cell with a dozen other migrants from West Africa. Read more about Europe's efforts to fight migration by working with the Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli, and the militias loyal to it, in at its source in Part III of FP's special, five-part investigation into Europe's response to the migration crisis: "Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul." Read more here.

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Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Two migrants from Mali and Niger, detained at the Abu Salim detention center in Tripoli, play checkers on a set they made from scraps of cardboard. Some of their cellmates had been in this room for months, and explained how they spent all but a few minutes a day in this dimly lit room with a rotting ceiling. They play checkers by day and pass every night willing themselves to sleep on mattresses infested with bed bugs. Read more about Libya’s EU-funded “detention industrial complex” in Part III of FP's special, five-part investigation into Europe's response to the migration crisis: "Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul." Read more here.

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Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

Image by Peter Tinti. Libya, 2017.

A woman from Niger, arrested after being stopped on the street by a local militia that is nominally allied with the UN-backed government in Tripoli, waits to be processed and moved to a detention center. Regardless of whether she had any intention to migrate to Europe, or whether she is in Libya legally, militias that were once directly involved in migrant smuggling have turned to policing, in part because the European Union and individual member states have expressed a willingness to work with any group, legitimate or otherwise, that can help prevent Africans from reaching Europe. Read about the EU-funded campaign to arrest and deport “black Africans” living in Libya in Part III of FP's special, five-part investigation into Europe's response to the migration crisis: "Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul." Read more here