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15 June 2017

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Images from a Facebook video depicting hundreds of Somali and Ethiopian migrants and refugees held against their will. Faces have been blurred to protect the people depicted.

Facebook Video Circulates Showing 260 Somali and Ethiopian Migrants and Refugees Abused, Held Against Their Will by Gangs in Libya

Switzerland - The UN Migration Agency (IOM) is deeply concerned by the situation of approximately 260 Somali and Ethiopian migrants and refugees, including many children, held captive by smugglers and/or criminal gangs in Libya. In a video posted on Facebook on 9 June, hundreds of emaciated and abused Somalis and Ethiopians are seen huddled fearfully in a concrete room. Other nationalities may also be present.

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Photo: Swen Pfödpa

'I am doing good': A Syrian Smuggler's story

Omar went from construction worker to people smuggler after mass anti-government protests broke out in Syria but believes he is doing some good by helping families slip quietly into Turkey.

Germany - Omar lives in a small village near the border of Syria and Turkey. The 31-year-old is a husband and a father of four. He used to work in construction, but these days he's a people smuggler.

Under the cover of darkness, he and his small band of fellow smugglers guide their Syrian customers along paths through the mountains where they sit and wait for the precisely the right moment to try to slip, undetected, into Turkey.

Success has been rare of late due to Turkey's aggressive border patrols aimed at stopping the tide of desperate Syrians trying to leave their war-torn country.

Omar knows his current profession is illegal. But he says that compared to others involved in the smuggling business, he and his colleagues are ethical, even altruistic, service providers.

"If they are caught, I will give the money back," he tells the German news agency DPA.

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Ahmed: "My sons are proud of me because they know their dad is helping other people in need."
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“We need more than ever to have a fact-based discourse on migration that recognizes its many contributions to development.” –  Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration. Her tweet here.


Migration in the News

  • Reuters reported on United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ remarks that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan that is forcing record numbers of people from their homes. The UNSG was on an unannounced visit to the war-torn country.

  • The New York Times reported that strategies to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and disrupt smuggling networks have had deadly, unexpected consequences.

  • AFP reported that for nearly 30 years, Edo State in Nigeria has survived on the money sent back from across the Mediterranean.

  • Reuters, Prensa Latina, BBC and AP reported that in the past week, authorities in Niger had rescued over 100 migrants abandoned by smugglers in the Sahara desert as they tried to cross into neighbouring Libya.

  • Xinhua reported that more and more unaccompanied children and teens are arriving on migrant and refugee boats, and they remain at risk when they reach Italy, according to a report by Save the Children.

  • The Conversation published an opinion piece that an urgent need for a new strategy is needed to address irregular migration in Libya.

  • AFP, The Journal, Free Malaysia Today, SAT1, FM 1 Today, Le Courier Australien and various media outlets reported on the waves of desperate people slipping across international borders every year that has created a massive moneymaking opportunity for unscrupulous human smugglers. 


Trending on the Internet

  • Australia’s SBS reported that help provided to recent migrants to find their first job in Australia is more than four times more likely to come from friends and family than it is from employment service providers.

  • ABC News reported that thousands of Syrian refugees are returning home for a visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after Turkey temporarily opened two border crossings with its war-torn neighbor.


Media Contacts
For interviews and other media requests, please contact the IOM Media and Communications team here.