By Sudarsan Raghavan
ZAWIYAH, Libya – The doors of the detention center were bolted shut. Hundreds of migrants were locked inside, with as many as 20 crammed into each cell. Scrawny and barefoot, the men peered through the small, square openings in the metal doors as the stench of urine and body odor hung in the stale air.
“I’ve eaten only a piece of bread today,” an Algerian man whispered. “I beg you, can you help me?”
Yet for these migrants, mostly Africans fleeing poverty, war or persecution, the worst part of their experience in Libya began before they reached this crowded facility. Many were bought and sold by smugglers who operate freely in the lawless areas of the country.
“They flogged me, they slapped me, they beat me while I was on the phone with my mother so she could hear me cry,” said Ishmael Konte, a 25-year-old from Sierra Leone, recounting his …
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