File: Migrants sit on the open cargo of a pick-up truck as they leave the outskirts of Agadez for Libya, from where they will try to reach Europe.
JOHANNESBURG – The Nigerian government has started to fly citizens home from Libya following media footage of sub-Saharan Africans being auctioned as farm hands for as little as $400 (R5,467).
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed on Wednesday that his government was taking stranded citizens home from the North African country before they could be auctioned off as slaves.
The situation in Libya, of people being sold into slavery, is appalling and unacceptable. We will do everything to protect our citizens wherever they might be.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) November 29, 2017
We have also started bringing back home all Nigerians stranded in Libya and elsewhere. We will ensure they all return home safely and are rehabilitated.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) November 29, 2017
The UN International Organisation for Migration confirmed that 239 Nigerians were flown home from the Libyan capital Tripoli on Tuesday.
The same day France appealed to the 15-member United Nations Security Council in Washington to apply targeted sanctions on individuals in Libya involved in human rights abuses and trafficking.
French UN ambassador Francois Delattre said the council should use sanctions to help stamp out trafficking in Libya.
“France will propose to assist the sanctions committee in identifying responsible individuals and entities for trafficking through Libyan territory,” Delattre told the council. “We count upon the support of the members of the council to make headway to that end.”
Libya’s UN-backed government has said it is investigating.