December 4, 2017

By Staff, “The Gist”


According to a Voice Of America (VOA) report, “an airlift is under way to repatriate some 15,000 African migrants, who are being held in abusive detention conditions in Libya. The International Organization for Migration  (IOM) says it expects to complete the operation before the end of the year.”

The repatriation operation was triggered by recent reports of slave auctions and torture and rape of African migrants in Libya. The IOM is scaling up its ‘return program’ in the wake of an African Union (AU) -European Union (EU) initiative to deal with the migrants and their abuse, slavery.


The 2-day summit of the AU & EU was supposed to be about boosting development in Africa. However, shock TV footage of Africans sold as slaves in Libya, took over much of the conference.

Ivorian President Alassan Outtara, the summit’s host said, “The inhumane treatment of migrants challenges us, requiring responses which match our condemnation”.

“…an extreme emergency operation to evacuate from Libya those who want to be…Libya restated its agreement to identify the camps where scenes of barbarism have been identified…Libya has given its agreement for ensuring access,” France’s president Macron said.

“This work will be carried out in the next few days, in line with the countries of origin,” he said, adding in some cases they could be given asylum in Europe.


The IOM is working with a task force – sharing police and intelligence services, to “dismantle the networks and their financing and detain traffickers,” Macron said.

The AU, EU and UN officials also pledged to freeze the assets of identified human traffickers while the AU will set up an investigative panel and the UN could take cases before the International Court of Justice, he added.

This year, the IOM has brought more than 14,000 mainly sub-Saharan migrants back to their home countries. The current operation will more than double the number of migrants who will have been voluntarily repatriated. Most come from Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia, Mali and Senegal.

IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle, “A senior colleague of ours was in a detention center…with some senior EU delegations. There were about 1,000 people crammed into the space pleading, begging, shouting to be taken home,” he said.

Doyle told VOA the migrants to be flown home are in government-administered detention centers in and around Tripoli. They account for only a small portion of the migrants being detained throughout Libya.

“There are many, many, many other detention centers run by criminal gangs — dreadful hovels, torture — which we do not have access to and that is what is leading to the reports and allegations of slave auctions. It is away from the government centers,” he said.

The IOM has registered more than 400,000 migrants in Libya, though the actual number thought to be in the country is estimated at 700,000 to 1 million.

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