Libia - Migrant workers (2012)

Libya became increasingly reliant on workers from the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. It was estimated that before the uprising over one fifth of the workforce were expatriates. Migrant workers could not form their own unions, or hold union office and the official unions did little to protect them. Sub-Saharan migrants, who made up the majority of the country’s 1.2 million foreign workers, were heavily discriminated against as they were considered to be the “underclass.” When the revolution broke out sub-Saharan migrants were robbed and harassed by the armed police and militia forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi while at the same time, they were physically attacked by the rebels who believed them to be African mercenaries hired by Gaddafi. Over 200,000 migrant workers from the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, and Egypt fled the country when the fighting began.

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