18 February 2018

Libya: Somalis Back Home From Libya Slave Market

Eleven Somali migrants have been repatriated from Libya.

Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled received the returnees, who included children, at the Aden Abdulle International Airport on Saturday.

The Somali returnees add to the number of the several sub-Saharan countries' nationals who have been rescued from Libya, where they were reportedly being sold into slavery.

The African Union and individual states have been under pressure to get their citizens out of Libya after CNN broadcast a report showing black Africans being sold as slaves in the war-ravaged country.

AU said it wanted to repatriate 15,000 migrants by the end of 2017, but increased its goal after a task force - including AU, European Union and United Nations officials -- held discussions.

The Somali returnees were also met at the Mogadishu airport by Cabinet ministers and members of parliament.

"This gesture of returning migrants from Libya is another testimony of how the government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is committed to the welfare of the Somali people," Mr Guled said.

The Mogadishu government had formed a committee led by the ambassador to the EU, Mr Ali Fiqi, to repatriate the migrants from Libya.

Last year, Mogadishu also sought the return of its nationals detained in India, promising to negotiate with other governments to release Somalis imprisoned in foreign countries.

Some of the returnees kissed the airport ground upon descending from the plane, raising hands in prayers.

Individual African countries initiated their their own repatriation programmes, with Nigeria, the source of the majority of undocumented migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya, bringing several home.

Rwanda offered to take in as many as 30,000 migrants who have suffered abuse and slave-like conditions in Libya.

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