Explore all of ul.com



African migrants in Libya face “unimaginable horrors,” the United Nations human rights commissioner declared. “Despicable,” the chairman of the African Union called their treatment. Several African countries recalled ambassadors in protest. Rwanda offered the migrants assistance.

The mid-November broadcast by CNN showing what was described as African migrants being auctioned off at a Libyan slave market — for as little as $100 each, at black-market exchange rates — has set off an international firestorm. The response from the European Union, however, has been notably muted.

Rights groups and other experts say the video of the slave market — although no surprise to many journalists or relief workers — is an uncomfortable reminder for Europe that its policies risk trapping the migrants in slave-like conditions.