African migrants become easy targets in Libya

24 February 2011

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As tensions in Libya continue to escalate, James Martin Fellow Dr Hein de Haas has added his voice to the debate by highlighting the risks faced by sub-Saharan Africans in the country.

De Haas, a Senior Researcher at the International Migration Institute, raised the issue on his personal blog page earlier this week. He argues that these African migrant workers are victims of persistent racism and ruthless exploitation and are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population who receive no support from their home country governments.

Gaddafi’s guestworker policies are behind a massive increase in the number of African workers in Libya, and de Haas argues that, “Gaddafi has shrewdly exploited largely unfounded European fears of an African invasion to position himself as a partner in the so-called ‘fight against illegal immigration’ – which has earned him billions of dollars in bilateral deals, and helped him to regain respectability.”

In the current political turmoil, Gaddafi is now fuelling racist hatred by putting the blame for recent violence on foreigners and immigrants from southern Africa. De Haas warns that there is now a huge danger that violence will continue to escalate and turn in particular on the hundreds and thousands of innocent and hard-working African immigrants living in Libya.

For further insights into the racist violence and destabilisation now plaguing Libya, read the blog in full:

The views outlined in this personal blog are not necessarily representative of the views of the Oxford Martin School.