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EU, UN and African leaders draw up emergency plan for migrants in Libya

Libya migrant planThe European Union, United Nations and African Union agreed to an emergency plan to dismantle people smuggling networks and repatriate stranded migrants in an effort to ease a human rights disaster in Libya, officials said.

Details of the strategy were negotiated at an African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast, and the plan was expected to be finalised on Thursday.

Images broadcast by CNN earlier this month appearing to show migrants auctioned off as slaves by Libyan traffickers sparked outrage in Europe and anger in Africa. It shone a light on abuses committed against African migrants trying to reach Europe, forcing the issue to the top of the agenda of a summit meant to focus on Africa’s youth.

European Council President Donald Tusk called the slavery reports “horrifying” during the summit’s opening ceremony and said migration was a joint responsibility of European and African governments.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the plan included establishment of an “operational task-force” of European and African police and intelligence services.

“The goal will be in short order to arrest identified traffickers, dismantle networks and their financing which goes through banks and payments that in the region contribute ... to sustaining terrorism,” he said.

The plan emerged from a meeting of UN officials, EU leaders and government representatives from Chad, Niger, Morocco, Congo and Libya called by France.

The European Union, African Union and United Nations agreed to asset freezes and financial sanctions on known smugglers.

Libya’s government, which promised to investigate reports of slave auctions, agreed to grant UN agencies access to migrant camps in areas under its control, German officials said.

EU countries meanwhile agreed to finance repatriation of migrants from Libya, a process organised by the International Organisation for Migration, they said.

Vulnerable migrants who might eventually qualify for asylum will be brought to Chad or Niger before relocation to a third country either in Europe or another region.

 

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