Homebound from Libya: 13,000 Migrants Repatriated Since December

Written by | Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The African Union (AU) has repatriated around 13,000 migrants to their homelands since December last year. The news of the repatriation operation comes only two months after it had been reported that African migrants are being sold out as slaves in Libya. Speaking to the media, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mahamat Faki, noted that the number was still lower than the target set by the AU to airlift 20,000 migrants out of conflict-ridden Libya by mid-January. He commented that the operation was making progress, “although with a bit of delay. Already more than two-thirds… have been repatriated.”

Worn-torn Libya collapsed into chaos following its 2011 Arab Spring revolt that saw longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi toppled and killed along with various militias and many jihadist groups battling for power. The situation of migrants on the ground fell into scrutiny following the shocking reports of slavery in Libya. The video, aired by the US TV channel CNN, showed sub-Saharan migrants, referred to as “merchandise”, being sold at an auction in slave markets for $400. The reports triggered outrage around the world.

The video footage prompted world-leading players – the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union – during the EU-AU summit held at Abidjan at the end of November 2017 to put in place a joint Task Force to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the migrant routes inside Libya. The three organizations discussed concrete steps to jointly address the situation in the North African country. The United Nations estimates that the number of migrants in Libya is around 700,000.

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