An urgent evacuation plan has been agreed on to get migrants out of Libya.
Many are facing abuse in detention camps, while others are vulnerable to exploitation by human trafficking gangs and modern day slave traders.
Disturbing footage also emerged from Libya, broadcast by CNN in mid-November, that appeared to show migrants being auctioned off as slaves for as little as $400.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the slave auctions a “crime against humanity” and said the EU and AU would “launch concrete military and policing action on the ground to dismantle those networks,” which he said were closely linked to terror groups in the region.
“It’s not about declaring war, Libya is a state in political transition,” Macron told France 24. “But there’s reinforced police action that needs to be done to dismantle those networks. We’ll do it.”
The evacuation plan, agreed at a summit of the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) in Ivory Coast, could see up to 15,000 people flown out of Libya, according to the Guardian.
Most will be sent back to their home countries, under the agreement, which has been agreed by nine countries, including Libya, France, Germany, Chad, and Niger.
The Libyan government came under fire from some African leaders, including Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, who said it was appalling his people were being sold “like goats.”
And the chief of mission in Libya for the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), Othman Belbeisi, warned that smuggling networks in Libya are only “getting stronger.”
Hundreds of thousands of people make the arduous and hazardous journey across the Sahara, before crossing the Mediterranean to Europe from Libya. But many arrive in Libya virtually penniless, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by these slave traders and traffickers.
Some 3,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy this year, it was revealed this week.
It’s believed that the EU will provide the funding for the evacuation, but there are some questions about how the evacuation will be carried out.
Libya’s UN-backed administration joined the agreement, but it only has limited control over the territory, reported the BBC. Meanwhile, migrants without documentation would be held until their case is resolved.
Libya also reiterated its agreement at the summit “to identify the camps where barbaric scenes have been identified,” said Macron, according to AFP news agency. It has also agreed to give the IOM access to the camps in the next few days, so people living in the camps can be evaluated.Embed from Getty Images
Some evacuations have already begun, with 240 migrants from Nigeria flown home voluntarily on Tuesday night. Ghana has also repatriated over 100 people who had been detained in Libya.
The EU has been criticised at the summit by bodies including the AU and the UN for helping to create the conditions leading to the abuse of migrants in Libya — due to the policy of detaining Europe-bound migrant and returning them to Libya.
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN Global Goals, including for zero poverty, reduced inequalities, and peace, justice, and strong institutions. You can join us by taking action here.