The International Organization for Migration spokesman Joel Millman, has stated that it is working with the Libyan government to urgently secure the release of around 260 migrants who have been abducted in Libya and are being held for ransom. It said the abductors have made demands. The International Organization for Migration reports efforts are ongoing to rescue the abducted migrants and provide critical support, including medical and psycho-social, as well as transport if they want to return home.
News of the abductings and illegal detentions of 260 Somalians and Ethiopians in Libya first surfaced in a video, which appeared on Facebook on June 9. The International Organization for Migration says families of the missing men and women have received ransom demands based on short video clips depicting scenes of active torture.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the source of the video is not known, but there is little doubt as to its veracity. He said the scenes of people, dozens to a room, are graphic.
“We understand that there are cases of people being tortured by cement blocks, I think, being put on their chest or put on their back,” he said. “There are limbs broken. There are scars and cases of slack, listless men who appear to be emaciated. The witnesses themselves complain about not having been fed for quite some time.”
Millman said the criminal gangs demand that families pay ransoms of $8,000 or more for the release of their loved ones. He said the families sell their livestock and other assets to meet these demands.
“There is nothing new about the slaving industry, he said, as it has been around throughout history. What is new is the ready availability of digital devices and of high speed communication, even to some of the poorest villages in the world.
It gives criminals an opportunity to profit from the digital age. There is no question that it is true that you can terrify a mother and father with a tweet or with an email or with a video you download onto a telephone in seconds. That kind of thing was not possible a generation ago and it is probably going to get worse.”