INTERVIEW-World turns blind eye to Libya slave trade - photographer

Wed May 17, 2017 3:14pm GMT

By Astrid Zweynert

LONDON, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Libya has become a modern-day slave market, with migrants caught in a complex trafficking web largely ignored by the outside world, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer said on Wednesday.

Narciso Contreras, who spoke to migrants turned Libyan slaves, said most attention focused on the North African country as a gateway for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea.

"What I found is that it's a slave market, it's like an industry but the world is looking at Libya as a transit country," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Six years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still a lawless state where armed groups compete for land and resources and large weapons and people-smuggling networks operate with impunity.

Frustrated by official bureaucracy, Contreras, winner of the 2016 Carmignac Photojournalism Award, forged his own contacts with migrants, people smugglers and tribespeople as he travelled through Libya last year for a documentary photography project.

"The humanitarian crisis of migrants trying to reach Europe is well documented, and it is a story the Libyan authorities want to be told," he said in an interview.

"But that vast market trading in human beings is largely undocumented," said Contreras. "It's a human rights violation that needs to be addressed by the international community."

He spoke at the opening of "Libya: A Human Marketplace", an exhibition of his photographs at London's Saatchi Gallery.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.