“Libya Is Terrible” – A Liberian Returnee Laments Ordeal


Monrovia – “I am a living witness of the ill-treatment in Libya. The maltreatment in Libya is very terrible. 

Report by Mae Azango, [email protected]

“I am a living witness of the ill-treatment in Libya. The maltreatment in Libya is very terrible.”

“They do not treat blacks as human beings but animals; even pets in their homes are living far better than us black Africans. “

“There is insufficient food; they beat on you at any time they like” – T. Franklin Teah, a returnee from Libya 

They do not treat blacks as human beings but animals; even pets in their homes are living far better than us black Africans.

There is insufficient food; they beat on you at any time they like. I remembered how they used to come in our prison cell and collect 10 or 20 persons, soak our feet into water and beat the sore of our feet.

“They used to make us stand and face the wall; they will beat our backs,” narrated T. Franklin Teah, a returnee from Libya. 

Teah is one of the luckiest Liberians, who was stranded in Libya but managed to make his way back home.

He had to become a Guinean in order to make his way back through that sisterly republic on November 1, 2017.

According to him, because Liberia doesn’t presently have an embassy in that North African country, it is hard to know the total number of Liberians, who are residing or stranded there. He, however, confirmed that many young Liberians are stranded in that country. 

How He Left Liberia 

“I left Liberia in April 2016 along with a friend, who told me people were crossing through Mali to go to Italy.”

“We went through Côte d’Iviore onward to Mali and to Algeria, before entering into Libya. We never made it to Italy, because we were arrested in a town near Tripoli, Libya’s capital city on June 31, 2016.”

“My friend and I were separated and I have never heard about him. From that day, I was moved from one prison to another, until I was opportune to register as a Guinean to come to Liberia, because there is no Liberian embassy in Libya,” said Teah.

Teah further narrated that he was surprised to see humans so skinny to their bones on July 6th 2016, the day he was thrown into prison in Tripoli.

“I didn’t know my time was coming become like those people I had seen in prison on the first day,” he added. 

“The first prison I was thrown into was Salidie Prison in Central Tripoli. I was constantly whipped in this prison.”

“I saw people, who were so scrawny that they literally grew tails. I did not know my time was coming to also get dry the same way.”

“Furthermore, there was no space to sleep; I stood on my feet for one week that bad blood started setting under my feet,” he said. 

He stated that Libya is very cold but the Libyans would sometimes put them outside during a very cold weather and would waste cold water on them and leave them to sleep outside in the cold. According to him, he got very sick from this.       

My sickness and George Weah’s name 

Teah narrated that he contracted TB in prison, which nearly claimed his life. He said he could not walk, but was used to be carried on the back of one of his good friends.

He stated that he got some respite because of the name George Weah, whose football exploit is known globally. 

“I can tell anybody that the name George Weah was a coincidence. It’s not because Mr. Weah is running for office so I am promoting him. I am grateful I got some form of treatment because I am a citizen of the country that George Weah comes from, too. “

“George Weah did not go to Libya to help me. MSF doctors used to come to our prison every month to provide healthcare to prisoners, so I got lucky.”

“This day, the medical officer asked me for my name and the country, and when I said Liberia, he immediately exclaimed George Weah’s name and said he was going to pay much more attention to me because of George Weah, whom he said is his best African footballer.”

“The Medical Officer then recommended that I be transferred to the health center for further treatment. I stayed there for three months,” Teah further narrated. 

Why Are Blacks Manhandle in Libya?  

According to Teah, when he was asked why the Libyans being Africans themselves, are treating their fellow Africans in such inhumane manner, he retorted: “They do not consider themselves Africans.”

They even beat and marked me because I was not to use the same bathroom used by the Syrians and Moroccan slaves, who they treated with some form of respect because of the color of their skin. They do not even like to see blacks walking on the streets of the country.” 

How Many Liberians He Met 

Touching on how many Liberians he thinks are in Libya, he stated emphatically that he does not know. However, he added that there are many prisons in Libya, where blacks are being detained and tortured.

He said he had only seen Liberians and didn’t know they were his kinsmen until the day all of them were headed to Guinea as Guineans.

According to him, there were five other Liberians.

“The only way I was able to come to Liberia, is because I came as a Guinean through their embassy near Tripoli.”

“We were six Liberians, who came as Guineans through their embassy.”

“We were not given our repatriation packages because we feared that if we had told them that we are Liberians, they would have arrested us for lying to them as Guineans and didn’t want to be thrown into prison, again.”

“We were afraid, so we sneaked out and managed to come back home to Liberia,” said Teah. 

Selling Human Beings 

On some of the happenings in that North African country, he narrated that some Libyans are openly trafficking and selling humans especially blacks.

According to him, two guys, among them who could understand and speak Arabic were nearly sold, but had to escape narrowly being sold.

He narrated his two friends had heard this Libyan security man negotiating their sale to another person in Arabic.

He stated that he was one of the four persons the security man had earmarked to sell.  

How Is Teah Faring Now? 

“I am still sick and cannot move around too much. I need to go for thorough medical treatment; so anybody wanting to help me can call me through my uncle on 0886991456/ 0777 415708 or through this FrontPageAfrica journalist, Mae Azango: 0776189406/0886545960. Once you call, you will get me through my uncle or the journalist.” 

Advice to His Fellow Young People 

“My advice to my young friends, who are thinking about traveling that route in search of a better life, they should not go through that route.”

“It is very dangerous and could cause you your death,” he stated.

He also advised that even going through Morocco in order to get to Spain and Italy is also very risky.

“The people do not like to see blacks; if you have the intention of taking such trip, please do not try it.”

“Young people like us are dying every day in the desert.”

“When the terrorists catch you, they will either kill you or sell you as a slave.”

“I saw skeletons of others who have died in the desert while we were on our way. Thirst is the major factor killing people in the desert.”

According to him, at some point in the journey, one can opt to drink one’s urine because of thirst and no water.

He concluded with this: “Living in Libya is like hell on earth.” 

‘Enough Is Enough, We Say No to Slavery!” 

Meanwhile, on Monday, December 4, different groups of women organizations met to carry out a peaceful protest at the Libyan embassy in Monrovia.

From the Libyan embassy on in Sinkor, they moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill to present their petition statement to Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara, who is said to be out of the country.

At the Foreign Ministry, they were received by Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, Madam Deweh Gray. 

Madam Melinda B. Joss, Executive Director, Women and Children Development Association of Liberia (WOCDAL), who was the main leader of the protest action, they had gathered to present their petition statement to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to tell the government of Liberia that “enough is enough and let them bring back their people from Libya.” 

“The government will always say there are no Liberians in that country whenever it is time for them to bring the citizens home; but we know many of our friends, who traveled to Libya and are stranded there.”

“We are here to represent the women, children and youth, who are suffering and dying in Libya.”

“I have seen footage of a young lady being beaten and sexually abused by the Libyan.”

“My heart wept. This is a peaceful protest; we will not leave from here until we are heard.”

“We want the Liberian government to answer to the plight of our brothers and sisters”

“. Please bring them home. It could be me or my children, who are in Libya today.”

According to her, other countries are going for their citizens, and the government has not shown interest. 

“Madam President, please bring back our citizens from Libya. Black Africans are humans, not commodities. Bring back our brothers and sisters now.” 

She stated that when they had met with the Libyan Ambassador, who assured them his government is doing all to address the situation.