Human traffickers have been holding seven Palestinian refugees in Libya for a month, Shehab news agency reported on Tuesday. The seven were trying to get to Europe.
The Task Group for Palestinian Refugees in Syria said that the traffickers released a 70-year-old Palestinian woman after her health deteriorated but continue to hold the others. The group, which is based in London, said that the traffickers had sent a ransom note to the families of the refugees, demanding $5,000 per person.
According to the mother of one of the refugees, she paid the ransom but her son has still not been released. She claimed that the refugees are suffering a lot due to ill-treatment at the hands of the traffickers. The refugees’ families and human rights groups called on the Palestinian embassy in Libya to play a role in securing the release of the detainees.
Media reports and NGOs report that migrants crossing Libya en route to Europe are being sold like commodities by smugglers and human traffickers who are becoming stronger in the war-torn country. The International Organisation for Migration said that human trafficking in Libya is on the increase and people are being sold in what are known as slave markets for forced labour or sexual blackmail.
Reuters has reported that human trafficking networks are organised in a hierarchal way by groups and individuals based in Africa and Europe.