Thousands of refugees and migrants face kidnap, slavery, torture and sexual violence in Libya before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy – if they are not killed first. Oxfam has spoken to men and women who have spent months being beaten, tied up like animals and sold as cheap labour in Libya’s shocking slave trade. Women are at an extremely high risk of physical and sexual violence, and men also speak of rape. For many, the hazardous escape from Libya across the Mediterranean is not a choice, but a matter of survival, even if it is against the odds. But due to EU governments’ flawed policies that aim to prevent people getting to Italy, thousands are trapped in the living hell that is Libya. The EU is meant to be a bastion of human rights: EU member states should ensure that migrants arrive safely in Europe where they can have access to a fair and transparent process for claiming asylum.
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