There is an estimated 48,000 people living in modern slavery in Libya (GSI 2018). Libya is a major transit destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe by sea. Human trafficking networks have prospered amid lawlessness, created by the warring militias that have been fighting for control of territories since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Highly organized trafficking and migrants smuggling networks that reach into Libya from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states subject migrants to forced labor and forced prostitution through fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, debt bondage, and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. In some cases, migrants reportedly pay smuggling fees to reach Tripoli, but once they cross the Libyan border they are sometimes abandoned in southern cities or the desert where they are susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking. Abdirahman was training to become a photographer in his hometown Hargeisa, Somalia when he started receiving pictures and messages from friends who had travelled irregularly to Europe. They were bragging about how life in Europe was wonderful and easy and Abdirahman felt an urge to go there himself. He and some friends decided to try their luck and contacted a smuggler. They had been promised the journey would be fast and easy. Already the first leg, across the sea to Yemen and from there to Sudan, brought a sharp reality check. Many fellow passengers died on the overloaded boat which had a capacity of 50 passengers but had 200 on board. On the second sea journey to Sudan the ship got lost and they ran out of food. When they finally reached the Sudanese shore, they were handed over to ruthless smugglers. They were put on buses and started a long drive through a hot desert with no food and only water mixed with petrol to drink, to prevent them feeling hungry. In Libya, their party was attacked by bandits, and they were taken to a traffickers’ camp where they were brutally beaten to force their families to pay ransom. When the ransom money had been paid, the camp was attacked by a rival gang and Abdirahman was kidnapped once again. At last, he managed to flee his tormentors and was rescued by police. He was put into detention and eventually offered repatriation, which he gratefully accepted.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the country prompts many to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries, especially China. Within North Korea, forced labour is part of an established system of political repression. The government subjects its nationals to forced labour through mass mobilisations and in North Korean prison camps. There are an estimated 80 000 to 120 000 prisoners being held in political prison camps in remote areas of the country. Here men, women and children are subjected to unhygienic living conditions, beatings, torture, rape, lack of medical care and insufficient food. Many do not survive and furnaces and mass graves are used to dispose the bodies of those who die. Young Soon, along with her family, was forced into an internment camp in North Korea as a political prisoner. Forced to live in a cramped hut and fed only gruel, Young Soon worked long hours in a corn field. All members of her family either died of malnutrition or were killed. After nine years, Young-Soon was able to escape to South Korea.