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Black Agenda Report

Libyan “Humanitarian” War Creates Humanitarian Crisis

Europe and America’s ghastly military intervention in Libya’s civil strife – supposedly for humanitarian reasons – has created its own humanitarian crisis, especially for Black African migrant workers trapped in that country. Whether by death at sea or by lynching at the hands of U.S.-backed “rebels,” the death toll among migrant workers and their families is certainly in the thousands – although the U.S. superpower and its European allies seem not to care in the slightest. Dead Africans – whether Arab or sub-Saharan, Muslim or Christian – are of no consequence to the rulers in Washington, Paris, London and Rome, who seek to strengthen their grip on the region and its resources by force of arms. In their mouths, “humanitarian intervention” is an oxymoron.

For the 72 Black passengers of a rickety vessel that ran out of fuel shortly after leaving Libya in late March, there was no humanity in NATO’s intervention. All but 11 died from thirst and starvation during 16 days of agony in the Mediterranean Sea. At one point, they passed very close to a NATO aircraft carrier, almost certainly the Carl Vinson. Two warplanes buzzed the stricken ship as the Africans on deck held up their babies to show their distress. But then the planes went back where they came from. The NATO fleet could not be bothered with rescuing otherwise doomed Africans – even though NATO claims the purpose of its mission is to save civilian lives. Clearly, the Black American commander-in-chief did not give his sailors and flyers the impression that Black lives matter. The dead included men, women and children from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ghana and Nigeria.
“Whether by death at sea or by lynching at the hands of U.S.-backed “rebels,” the death toll among migrant workers and their families is certainly in the thousands.”

At least 800 other refugees from Libya are presumed to have died on the high seas last month. Add to that, many of the 600 onboard a vessel that sunk just off the Libyan coast, this week.

According to the United Nations, about 750,000 refugees have left Libya since the rebellion broke out more than two months ago. But there were more than three million foreign workers in the country at that time, one and a half million of them Black Africans who were relentlessly hounded and hunted by racist lynch mobs. The rebel’s political leadership and their backers in NATO dismissed out of hand an African Union cease-fire proposal that would have opened a safe corridor for refugees to escape. Under the conditions of a civil war that has been nurtured, armed and funded every step of the way by the U.S. and its allies, it was totally predictable that the western intervention would put civilian African workers at terrible risk. At best, NATO is guilty of depraved indifference to human life – as are the western news media that act as cheerleaders for the superpower aggression.

Which reminds us of the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, in late 2006. The same “humanitarian” interventionists that now hold sway under President Obama, applauded the Somalia invasion as “humanitarian.” Instead, it resulted in what the United Nations called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” The U.S. didn't care about civilians then, and it doesn't now. Washington's cynicism is an affront to the very idea of civilization.

Glen Ford

Glen Ford

Glen Ford is the Executive Editor of the Black Agenda Report. He can be contacted at

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