Airlift for 20,000 enslaved African migrants in Libya set to begin - AU

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – A joint task force planning the repatriation of migrants, stuck in Libya and subjected to slavery and servitude, plans to begin airlifts from the North African nation for some 20,000 migrants held in government-controlled regions, the African Union said on Wednesday.

The AU and the European Union and the UN joint task force held its first meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday to discuss the plight of the African migrants in Libya and agreed on a roadmap for the airlifts of the migrants over a period of six weeks, the AU said in a statement.

The joint task force meeting was chaired by the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira el-Fadil with the participation of the EU, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which uncovered the human slavery in Libya after an investigation.

The task force said at least 20,000 migrants currently in identified Government-controlled detention centres who have expressed the wish to leave Libya, would be airlifted within six weeks.

“Other immediate priorities also include working with the concerned African Union member states to provide consular services to their nationals stranded in Libya, in order to identify them and provide them with travel documents,” the AU said in the statement.

The Libyan authorities would be required to grant landing permits for airlines other than those from Libya, in order to expedite the repatriation while neighbouring countries are required to provide over-flight permission, according to the Task Force.

The Task Force expressed appreciation to countries that have already pledged to support the returns from Libya, and urged other member states to do the same.

The European Union pledged to provide financial support to those countries to facilitate return and reintegration efforts.

The Task Force was established during the Tripartite meeting between AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, European Commission President Jean Claude Junker and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice President Federica Mogherini and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Abidjan on 29 November 2017.

On 5 December 2017, the Chairperson of the Commission met with the Permanent Representatives of 21 member states that either have nationals stranded in Libya or share a border with Libya.

The Chairperson and the Commissioner for Social Affairs briefed the member states on the ongoing African Union-led efforts with partners.

The Chairperson highlighted the collective duty of the continent to act quickly and swiftly to ease the suffering of stranded African migrants.

The AU has urged the 21 countries to send consular officials and to speedily provide consular services, including identification of their nationals and issuance of emergency travel documents.
-0- PANA AO/MA 7Dec2017

07 december 2017 07:04:34

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