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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Africa and Europe vows to return trapped migrants in Libya

ABIDJAN (Xinhua) -- European and African nations on Thursday pledged to stem illegal migration and bring back thousands of African migrants trapped in Libya.

“We’ve made firm decisions for immediate repatriation of refugees ... Various countries have established a special force to fight human traffickers,” said Guinean President Alpha Conde at the closing of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit in Abidjan, economic capital of Cote d’Ivoire.

Conde, also AU Chairman, called for bringing to book the human traffickers and charging them with “crime against humanity.”

On Wednesday, nine European and African nations, along with the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), agreed to urgently evacuate African migrants trapped in Libya.

On the number of migrants needing repatriation, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, said 3,800 migrants, mostly from West Africa, have been found in just one migrant camp in Libya, which has at least 42 such camps.

Despite the official theme of “investing in youth for a sustainable future,” issues of migration and terrorism have dominated discussions at the two-day forum, which took place as Europe seeks relief from its migrant crisis and frequent terror attacks.

A recent footage revealing enslavement of African migrants in Libya, a transit hub for migrants trying to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Europe, also triggered an outcry in Africa. Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, at the opening of the summit, called for ending “the practice that belongs to another age.”

Africa has the world’s youngest population, 60 percent of whom being under the age of 25, but high unemployment coupled with instability and disasters have fueled migration to neighboring Europe.

The summit has renewed calls for creating more jobs and enhancing training for Africa’s youths, as Europe hopes to see young Africans shunning illegal immigration and terrorist recruitment.

Dozens of leaders from the EU, the AU and their member states, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Jacob Zuma, attended the summit.

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S. Africa condemns alleged slave trade of African migrants in Libya 

CAPE TOWN (Xinhua) -- South Africa on Thursday joined the international community in strongly condemning the alleged auctioning of African migrants in Libya as slaves.

This came after a video of slaves apparently being auctioned in Libya had gone viral on social media.

“These inhumane acts are incongruent with the ideals of the African Union and relevant African and international instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

South Africa calls for an immediate end to these atrocities and other criminal acts of human trafficking, Monyela said.

The Libyan authorities have pledged to investigate reports that hundreds of African refugees are being bought and sold in “slave markets” across Libya every week, with many of them held for ransom or forced into prostitution and sexual exploitation to pay their captors and smugglers.

South Africa welcomes the announcement by the Libyan authorities to investigate and identify all the perpetrators and accomplices of these criminal acts and looks forward to a transparent and credible investigation, Monyela said.

Publishing the outcome of the investigation will be the most prudent and welcome thing to do by the Libyan authorities, he added.

“We further urge the Libyan authorities to do everything in their power to improve the conditions of African migrants in the camps meant to house migrants on their territory,” said Monyela.

South Africa will continue its work to eradicate human trafficking and support international efforts to bring those who abuse vulnerable people to justice, he said.

“We will continue to champion the respect for human rights, especially those of our fellow African brothers and sisters,” said Monyela.

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