Europe Wanted Migrants Stopped. Now Some Are Being Sold as Slaves.

Last April, the International Organization for Migration published a report documenting the existence of Libyan “slave markets” where dark-skinned migrants were auctioned, and it was widely covered at the time by international news organizations.

The report said that traffickers who had taken payment to transport African migrants across the desert for passage to Europe instead sold their human cargo to Libyans, and that the Libyan buyers often resold them to others.

“We get so used to hearing the words, ‘I was sold,’” said Meron Estafanos, a human rights advocate based in Stockholm who works with migrants from her native country, Eritrea. “It makes you feel, where were all these people when we were reporting it before?”

After the expressions of shock from around the world at CNN’s slave-market video, many Libyans accused the Europeans of hypocrisy for having acted surprised.

“The international community keeps turning a blind eye to facts when it comes to #Libya & #migration,” Emad Badi, a Libyan activist in Tripoli, wrote on Twitter. “Newsflash: there is no ‘coast guard’, slavery is not new, interception at sea breeds internal problems, expecting the nationally contested #GNA to handle migration is foolish.” He was referring to the Western-backed Government of National Accord, one of three rival governments vying for power in Libya.

Taher el-Sonni, an adviser to the president of the Western-backed government, wrote on Twitter: “Trafficking = Slavery, to put the blame only on Libya is unacceptable!”

Federica Mogherini, the top diplomat for the European Union, has been measured about the abuses, but has acknowledged that European policymakers have…

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