Macron urges military action in Libya to fight human trafficking

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for “concrete military and police” action against human trafficking in Libya. The issue sparked public outcry after a CNN report documented an alleged live slavery auction in the northern African country.

“We will launch a concrete military and police initiative on the ground, there is also a need for sanctions,” Macron told France 24 and RFI on Wednesday. The French leader was speaking on the sidelines of the 2017 African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit in the city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire). 

“These human traffickers are connected to terrorist networks. And sometimes it is the same people who wage war on us [who] create victims in the Sahel and Sahara [states],” Macron said.

READ MORE: ‘Who are the traffickers? They are Africans’: Macron loses his cool at Burkina Faso Q&A (VIDEOS) 

The EU and the UN will work together to deal with the crisis, according to Macron. “We will be identifying people before they get to Libya to see who can claim protection and avoid crossing the Mediterranean,” he said. France proposes to take those “who are now in Libyan camps to their own countries in Africa,” Macron said, adding that these people “stand no chance of gaining asylum since they can return.”

Later on Wednesday, Macron announced that the leaders of Libya, France, Germany, Chad, Niger, and other countries “decided on an extreme emergency operation to evacuate from Libya those who want,” as cited by AFP. 

“Libya restated its agreement to identify the camps where barbaric scenes have been identified,” Macron said.

Human trafficking has become a reality of crisis-stricken Libya ever since the NATO intervention and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The issue, however, has been largely neglected by the mainstream media. In November, it got widespread attention after CNN showed footage of migrants being sold at a location outside Tripoli. CNN claims that men were priced at as little as $400, and that auctions are being carried out at many sites across Libya each month. 

The report sparked a massive outcry, prompting France to call an emergency UN Security Council session on human trafficking in Libya. Many European cities, including Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, saw demonstrations against modern slavery in Libya.

The Libyan government has launched an investigation into slave auctions operating in the country, including areas under the control of the UN-backed internationally-recognized Government of National Accord. 

Libya has become the last stop on the highly dangerous route to Europe for migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty in their home countries in Africa and the Middle East. The ongoing political chaos allows people smugglers to thrive in the country, ravaged by civil war.

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