Following disturbing reports on the sale of African citizens as slaves in North Africa, ActionAid International has called on the African Union (AU) to put an end to the practice.
In a letter to the chair of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat, ActionAid is demanding the condemnation of the enslavement of African citizens in Libya in no uncertain terms, said Menue Bainda, a member of Activista and executive director of Volunteers Hub Liberia who read the statement yesterday.
According to Bainda, ActionAid is calling on each African government to immediately begin to identify, register and track their citizens in and across Libya and Europe as a first step to releasing them from physical or economic captivity and bondage, and bring them home as free citizens.
“We want AU to apply sanctions on the government of Libya by immediately suspending Libya from being a member of the AU until all captive and bondage persons within the soil of Libya are released, and develop a clear strategy for the rehabilitation of returnees in their respective countries,” he said.
Director Bainda said there is a need to develop a clear strategy to reach more young men and women with programs that protect their human rights and guarantee their safety and security.
“We also need to provide appropriate information and an open process for migration to their citizens who want to migrate, and take immediate steps to work with IOM, Italy and other European countries to protect the human rights of all migrants,” he said.
Bainda said the slave trade has a particular impact on young people who are making the perilous journey to Europe in search of better opportunities.
“Approximately, 65 percent of Africa’s population of one billion is under the age of 35. Many governments and leaders say they are prioritizing young people. Indeed, the African Union’s theme for 2017 is ‘Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth,'” he said.
Jemal Ahmed, Regional Director for East and Southern Africa at ActionAid, said: “Tragically, many sub-Saharan young people are increasingly getting ensnared in the slave trade in Libya in search of better opportunities in Europe. It is a real irony that while governments often claim they prioritize youth, the continent is faced with Libyan slavery and slave trade challenges.”
Ojobo Atuluku, Regional Director for West Central Africa, ActionAid, added: “The extreme injustice meted out on the migrants who are using the country as a transit zone to Europe is unacceptable. Slavery and the slave trade are an outrage. We would like to appeal to the AU to go beyond rhetoric and intervene to put an end to the tragic and horrible injustices in Libya.”