The Latest: Nigeria begins repatriating hundreds of migrants
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — The Latest on the European Union-African Union summit (all times local):
Nigeria’s government says it has already begun repatriating hundreds of migrants who had been stranded in Libya, with the help of international migration authorities.
The government said on Twitter that 242 Nigerian migrants returned home on Tuesday and that more than 4,000 who had been stranded in Libya have “safely retuned home” this year.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he is appalled by the recent footage of migrants being sold “like goats for few dollars in Libya.” He spoke during a summit of European and African leaders in Ivory Coast.
The European Union, African Union and United Nations are setting up a special task force to help protect migrants, notably those detained in squalid conditions in conflict-torn Libya.
The three organizations said in a statement Wednesday that the aim is to “save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya.”
The task force also will speed up the process of returning willing migrants to their home countries and finding new homes for those fleeing violence or conflict and who need international protection.
The three say the task force will coordinate closely with Libyan authorities and be part of the organizations’ continued efforts to dismantle human trafficking and crime networks.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world will be brought home and “rehabilitated.”
His comments during a European Union-African Union summit come after recent footage showing a slave auction of African migrants in Libya caused widespread outrage.
Buhari says it is appalling that “some Nigerians were being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya.”
The comments also come a few weeks after 26 Nigerian women died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union wants to work more closely with Africa to address illegal migration.
Merkel has told a Europe-Africa summit that “it’s very important that we simply support Africans to put a stop to illegal migration, so people don’t have to either suffer in horrible camps in Libya or are even being traded.”
Merkel is attending the summit in Ivory Coast along with French President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of other European and African leaders.
Migration is a top issue after recent footage of migrants at a slave auction in Libya drew international condemnation. Another issue high on the agenda is security.
Merkel says that to improve living conditions for Africans “the question of education of children and teenagers, especially of girls,” is key.