The journey toward the Libyan coast
Having crossed the Libyan border, arriving in the oasis of Cufra, migrants still have a very arduous journey to the Northern coast ahead of them. The main dangers are the desert crossing, and the continuing risks of being stopped by bandits, being cheated by brokers and passeurs or being intercepted by the authorities. According to some interviewees, and especially in the past, migrants were often stopped by the police and returned to Cufra where they were imprisoned and required to pay additional costs for their release. Apparently, smugglers, corrupt police officers and, following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, militias, collaborate to maximise the extortion of the migrants’ resources.
Prior to reaching Tripoli, migrants normally used to stop at smaller urban centres to work and raise the money needed for the sea journey. Migrants from the east normally stopped at Ajdabiya and Benghazi, while from the west they stopped at Sabha. This phase could last weeks, but sometimes months or years. The fear of being arrested by the police, or militias, and then falling back into the system of ‘imprisonment and payment’ still makes staying and travelling in Libya especially dangerous.