Nigerians Recount Beatings, Attacks in Libya
Ismaila Umusor, a 29-year-old cloth trader from Nigeria, was at his home last month in Tripoli when a gang of dozens of Libyan youths burst in, Swearing at him and calling him racist names, they told him they did not like black Africans living in their north African country, he told AFP in an interview here, reported (AFP)
The mob then brought in building blocks from outside and used them to beat him, he said, shattering his left leg before throwing him out of his house in Tripoli's Grigarrage district into the street.
After a week, Umusor was finally able to get treatment for his leg and had it covered in a plaster-cast. The date of the operation - September 23 - was etched into the plaster.
Still hobbling, he was deported at the weekend, one of 6,000 Nigerians flown back to the country in the past ten days.
"It was painful leaving Libya but I had no choice," he said. "My life is more important than anything else."
Since late August, black African migrant workers from countries including Chad, Ghana, Nigeria and Sudan have been the target of racist attacks in Libya and many dozens have reportedly been killed.
Vivian Okoro, 25, from southeastern Nigeria, said she had worked in Tripoli since 1998 before she too was attacked five weeks ago.
A group of around 10 young men burst into her home in Tripoli, shouting insults and telling her blacks were not wanted in Libya, she said.
"They screamed at me in Arabic, shouting 'What are you doing in our country? Go back home,'" she told AFP.
They then started beating her up and tore her dress, she said.
"They stripped me, almost naked," she said on the verge of tears. "They flogged me. They sent me out of the house and made me go to the camp for black Africans," she said, referring to sites reportedly set up by the Libya authorities for black Africans.
Cyril Idemudia, a 32-year-old restaurateur, said that he had operated a "flourishing" restaurant before it was invaded two eeks ago by Libyan youths, his takings and equipment stolen and the restaurant set ablaze.
He demanded compensation from the Nigerian government after being deported from Libya at the weekend.
Libya has sought hard to downplay the attacks on black Africans which hundreds of deportees, many of them baring scars or other injuries, have described to reporters here over past days.
According to their accounts, dozens of people have been killed, possibly more than 130, according to some.
The embassy of Niger and embassy of Nigeria were attacked. People from Sudan, Chad and Ghana have also been targets.
More than 6,000 people have been deported to Nigeria and more than 3,000 deported to Ghana.
The Nigerian government told AFP on Thursday that it was awaiting a full report from its embassy in Tripoli on the killings, beatings and expulsions.
"We are still waiting for the full report from the ambassador. Until we have that report we cannot really comment," Deputy Foreign Minister Dubem Oniya said.
Asked if he believed that Nigerians and other black Africans still in Libya were safe, Oniya declined to comment.
"We cannot say until we have the report," he said.
The Nigerian deportees have dismissed as insulting the claims by the Libyan government that the killings were the result of fighting between black African criminal gangs.
Those claims were reiterated Thursday by Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shelgram at a meeting in Beijing where he described the Nigerians and Ghanaians who died as "criminals".
"Libya is not a racist country," the minister said – (AFP)
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