In the past few months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has shrunk drastically on the back of new migrant policies in Libya and Italy alike. Instead, many of them find themselves stuck in a living nightmare in Libya, where they are imprisoned, tortured and sold off as slaves. We take a closer look at this humanitarian catastrophe which has caused global outrage.
Compared to just a few months ago, the number of overcrowded migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean seems to have become less and less frequent. In Italy alone, the number of Europe-destined migrants landing on its shores has dropped by as much as 70 percent.
The sudden halt in crossings can largely be attributed to Italy’s new migrant policies, engineered by the country’s Interior Minister Marco Minitti. Although these policies heavily rely on the official cooperation of the Libyan navy, they also include a number of secret, and more troubling, deals struck with local militia groups which have been put in charge of stemming the migrant flow in exchange for arms and millions of dollars.
A number of NGOs are more than worried about these "secret deals" and the impact they have on the migrants who find themselves stuck in Libya, where – with neither the possibility to cross the Mediterranean nor return home – they are imprisoned, tortured and sold off as slaves.
Our reporters, Natalia Mendoza and Taha Zargoun, went to investigate in the Libyan coastal city of Sabratah, which finds itself at the heart of this international scandal.