Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Mohamed Eljarh writes for Foreign Policy on the human trafficking crisis in Libya that led to the deadliest tragedy ever in the Mediterranean when more than eight hundred migrants headed for Europe died in a single incident last week:
Last week, as many as 1,200 migrants drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe from Libya. More than 800 of them died in a single accident, which the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees described as “the deadliest incident ever recorded in the Mediterranean.” The fact that these refugees, who come from all over Africa and the Middle East, embarked on the final stage of their journey from Libya underlines once again the lawlessness and chaos that have engulfed the country since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. Libya cannot confront the problem on its own. Human trafficking presents huge threats to Libya and its surrounding region, and international action is needed to combat it.
Smuggling desperate people into Europe is a lucrative business for human traffickers. Migrants fleeing war and oppression pay thousands of dollars to those who offer to help them cross the sea in search of a better life. Libya’s chaos and instability have created the perfect environment for these smugglers to operate — and to make enormous profits.