Friday, April 01, 2011

Black Africans in Libya

Reports that Moammar Qadhafi has brought in mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa has placed Libya's African migrant workers in a vulnerable position:
"As rumours of black mercenaries flown and trucked into Libya in their thousands have swirled about the country, poor sub-Saharan African migrant workers have borne the brunt of rebel outrage at the claims...

"The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it has become a “poisonous” atmosphere for sub-Saharan Africans in Libya, noting youth gangs this week broke down the doors to threaten an Eritrean family in hiding for three weeks, and that there are unconfirmed reports of some killed...

"Says the man in hiding: 'Some people here among the black African community tend to support the regime purely on the basis of wanting to survive. If the rebels win, they’re going to unleash their terror on black Africans.'"

Libya apparently has a history of racism. According to Julie Flint and Alex de Waal's Darfur: A New History of a Long War:
"Colonel Gaddafi had been mentor of the Arab Gathering. When relations with the Arab League sourced in the 1990's, he turned his attention towards building strategic alliances in Africa, and opened Libya's borders to migrant workers. But an estimated one-third of Libya's youth were unemployed, and race riots in 2000 killed an estimated 250 black migrants. Thousands more were expelled from the country."

Libya, incidentally, is relevant to Darfur because during the 1970's and early 1980's, Qadhafi sought a Saharan empire, fighting a lengthy war with Chad in which he used Darfur as a side base. Qadhafi promoted an aggressive Arab supremacy as a political movement potentially favorable to his ambitions, which led to the "Arab Gathering." This ideology of Arab supremacy is an important element to the genocide in Darfur.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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