IOM, West African countries repatriate migrants from Libya
Photo credit: AFP. Ivorian migrants returning from Libya arrive at the airport of Abidjan on 20 November 2017.
TMP – 12/12/2017
West African nations are repatriating their citizens from Libya amid reports of migrant slave auctions in the country.
During the latest Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting held on 21 November in Abuja, Nigeria, Senegalese president Macky Sall called for coordinated action to facilitate returns of stranded West African migrants.
Burkina Faso has recalled its ambassador to Libya and demonstrations have been held outside Libyan embassies in many African countries over the shocking stories of the migrant slave trade.
In the second week of November, assisted voluntary returns were organised for 135 Burkinabe migrants stranded in Libya, while 155 migrants returned to the Ivory Coast in the latest repatriation that took place in the third week of November.
The Ivorian returnees confirmed slave markets in Libya exist. Diabz Baba, a migrant returning from Tripoli said: “They sell Africans in Libya, they sell men over there. Even 15-year-old Libyans, they are in their car, armed, they come and kidnap you, sell you for 200 dinars or 100 dinars and then others re-sell you, that is the truth.”
Many of the young Burkinabe migrants who returned on board two chartered flights told IOM staff that they had previously wanted to reach Europe from Libya.
“I wanted to reach Europe and hoped to earn something to lift my family out of poverty. I travelled via Agadez in Niger and crossed the desert to enter Libya. I spent eight months in Libya, including seven months in detention. It was a real nightmare,” said Dembélé Moustapha, one of the young returnees.
“Now I am grateful for the support to start up my life again in Burkina Faso. I came back without luggage and lost a lot of money,” he added.