By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 30 November 2017:
Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj has said that the number of migrants in Libya exceeds half a million people, of which 95 percent are from Africa. He was speaking at the triennial African Union-European Union summit which finished today and which saw heads of state from most African and EU member states attend.
Given the numbers of migrants making the perilous journey to Europe and the allegations of mistreatment of them in Libya including some being auctioned for labour, the situation in Libya overshadowed the talks in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan.
At the beginning of the summit, the EU Trade Union called for an immediate suspension of EU efforts to keep refugees and migrants in Libya due to “appalling detention facilities” and following reports of slavery in the country.
In his opening speech Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said the security of Europe and Africa will “depend on our capacity to resolve the crisis in Libya and to bring an end, by all available means, to the inhuman treatment inflicted on migrants.”
According to Serraj, however, only four per cent of the migrants, numbering some 22,000, were in 42 of the detention centres with the rest being absorbed by the labour market.
Most migrants were destined for Europe via “death boats” though some were also recruited into local wars and conflicts or “exploited by terrorist groups,” he said.
His overall figure of half a million migrants is slightly above the estimate from the International Organisation for Migration which puts it at over 423,000 as of last month. However, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, today claimed today that there were between 400,000 and 700,000 African migrants, many living in “inhuman” conditions. He claimed they were already in camps.
Serraj called on African countries to take responsibility for the return of their nationals but also said Europe had to contribute and receive migrants. He also said that there had to be international sanctions against smugglers “wherever they are, whether in Africa or Europe, and should not be limited to Libya alone”.
Both Serraj’s demands were effectively answered positively. The Europeans pledged to invest €44 billion in Africa and French Emmanual Macron said that he and Serraj along with the leaders of Niger, Chad and other countries plus the UN, had agreed on the emergency evacuation of all those who wanted to leave.
The PC head, accompanied by his foreign minister Mohamed Siala, also held a series of talks with EU and African leaders while in Abidjan. He now heads to Washington for talks with President Trump.