A cable from December 2007 features Gaddafi Development Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yusuf Sawani discussing trans-national terrorism threats and security with US diplomats. The director talks about the fact that a million sub-Saharan African guest workers are resident in Libya and says it should be a “cause of concern.” The workers are a concern because Dr. Sawani believes any of those individuals could possibly commit an act of terrorism. In recent days, many of those guest workers have fled, as Libyans have grown suspicious and attacked a number of black Africans due to reports that Leader Muammar Gaddafi hired “black African mercenaries.”
The latest from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates 191,000 or more have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. A previous report estimated around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, 2,000 Nepalese and other African and Asian migrant workers are hosted by the country.
OCHA reports have been tracking the risk of violence migrant workers face. In a March 3 update, OCHA notes, “Sub-Saharan nationals remain at risk of violence from local populations on suspicion of being Government-recruited mercenaries.” A report on March 2 detailed the needs of those fleeing Libya highlights the need for protection. It reads: