At the recent African Union-European Union Summit held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, leaders from the two continents unanimously agreed to an emergency evacuation plan for all migrants currently stranded in Libya.
The summit discussed at length the disturbing reports of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya and resolved to repatriate them to their respective countries.
Speaking at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said the emergency evacuation operation was agreed by nine countries from Africa and Europe, including Libya, France, Chad, Niger, and Germany.
“This work will be carried out in the next few days,” Macron was quoted by the BBC. The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) promised to pay for the migrants’ exit visas.
Libyan authorities have also agreed to carry out thorough investigations into the claims of slave auctions and identify camps where the barbaric crimes are being committed.
It’s Not a Crime to Be Black
The announcement at the AU-EU Summit comes two weeks after CNN aired an investigative report showing how black Africans are being auctioned at different slave markets in Libya.
The horrifying revelation has triggered a global debate about the existence of slavery in Africa and other parts of the world, with many people calling on the international community to intervene and end the scourge.
Many black people across the world have condemned the situation in Libya, accusing the African Arabs in the North African country of treating black Africans as second-class citizens. Many are even asking whether it’s a crime to be black in Libya or any other part of the world.
Although the summit in Ivory Coast was meant to be on the role of African youth in developing the continent, it immediately turned into a platform for discussing the problem of migration through the Mediterranean Sea.
The emergency evacuation initiative is seen as part of EU’s wider strategy to reduce illegal migrations through the Mediterranean route. But lately, the Union has been faulted for its policy of arresting migrants in the Mediterranean and handing them over to Libyan authorities, who then detain them in dilapidated detention camps without trial.
Other than repatriating migrants from Libya, the leaders attending the summit also agreed to develop strategies that will target human traffickers, including the formation of a task force that will fight the trafficking networks and seize assets.
Currently, thousands of migrants, most of them from the sub-Saharan Africa, are being held in various detention centres across Libya, where they are subjected to all kinds of abuses, including torture, rape and physical attacks.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI