Abuja — Piqued at the reports on the sale of some African citizens as slaves in Libya, ActionAid International has called on the African Union (AU) to suspend the country until all captive and bonded persons are released.
In a letter sent to the Chair of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the group demanded that the AU condemn the enslavement in no uncertain terms.The body requested each African government to immediately 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.
They further demanded the need to develop a clear strategy for the rehabilitation of returnees in their respective countries, stressing that a clear strategy was developed to reach more young men and women with programmes that protect all their human rights and guarantees them safety and security.
The International organization also called on AU to provide appropriate information and an open process for migration to their citizens who want to migrate, urging them to take immediate steps to work with International Organization for Migration, Italy and other European countries to protect the human rights of all migrants.
The Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Jemal Ahmed, noted that the slave trade has a particular impact on young people, as they are the ones who are making the perilous journeys to Europe in search of better opportunities.He noted "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."
The organization's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ojobo Atuluku said: "The extreme injustices 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."She appealed to the AU to go beyond rhetoric and intervene to put an end to the tragic and horrible injustices occurring in Libya.
The Interim Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Funmilayo Oyefusi, said "the high number of Nigerian youths amongst the evacuated populations has made it evident, more than ever, that the government needs to take urgent steps to restore the confidence of youths in the Nigerian state through sustainable empowerment programmes."
She said the increasing number of graduates competing for scarce employment opportunities coupled with the continuous brain drain of the nation's best human capital has continuously widened the poverty gap and makes one wonder what the future holds.
Oyefusi called on the Nigerian government to prioritize the rehabilitation and re-integration of the returnees and devise clear strategies that will protect the human rights of Nigerian migrants and fast-track response to similar infringements should it occur.