President Emmanuel Macron of France has said that nine European and African nations, along with the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the UN, have decided to urgently evacuate African migrants trapped in Libya.
Macron made the remarks while addressing a news conference after an urgent meeting following the opening of the fifth AU-EU summit in Abidjan, the economic capital of Cote d’Ivoire.
A recent footage aired by CNN showing African migrants being auctioned off like slaves in Libya, a transit hub for Europe-bound migrants, has sent shock waves across Africa and sparked outrage from leaders at the summit.
Cote d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara called for ending “the practice that belongs to another age” at the opening of the summit.
The UN, AU, EU and countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Chad, Niger, Libya, Republic of Congo and Morocco jointly agreed on the evacuation.
Macron said the evacuation will take place in the next few days or weeks, and called for the punishment of human traffickers linked to terrorist groups.
Libya has fallen into chaos since the 2011 uprising led to the overthrow and killing of its longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The coast of the North African continent has become a hub for human trafficking.
Libya is now the main departure point for mostly African migrants trying to cross to Europe. Smugglers usually pack them into flimsy inflatable boats that often break down or sink.