Terror for women in Libyan black African refugee camp

We've been following the blatant racism being shown by the rebel army and ordinary Libyans toward black African migrant workers, as well as the reports of murder and executions of blacks by gangs of Libyans armed with guns.

Now comes disturbing reports that refugee camps where these black Africans have fled trying to find safety have become rape traps for young women.


You should be here in the evening, when they come in firing their guns and taking people," one woman from Nigeria said Wednesday as she recounted the nightly raids on the camp. "They don't use condoms, they use whatever they can find," she said, pointing to a discarded plastic bag in a pile of trash.

As she spoke, other women standing nearby nodded in agreement.

There is no way to know how many women have been raped here, where hundreds of Africans have settled in and around the boats of a marina. No one keeps statistics in the camp, and foreign aid workers say they are prohibited from discussing the allegations on the record. International Red Cross representatives say only that they have spoken to rebel leaders about "security concerns."

But the story that women tell is part of a larger picture of abuse of black Africans in Libya that is emerging in the wake of the rebel victory, born of allegations that Gadhafi often hired sub-Saharan Africans to fight for him.

Hundreds of black Africans have been swept up and are being held in makeshift prisons awaiting some sort of judicial finding of whether they were mercenaries or not. Thousands more are trapped in refugee camps. They can't leave the camps, they say, for fear they'll be targeted on the streets. They do not feel safe inside the camps, either.

There is a tragedy unfolding in Libya and no one - not the west, not the new government, and no international organization - is doing much to stop it.