World

Burkina Faso recalls officials from Libya after report of migrant slave trade

Burkina Faso's foreign minister says his country has recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

In its defence Libya says it is overwhelmed by migrants and needs help from African, European allies

Burkinabe migrants are shown on April 19, 2017 in the capital Ouagadougou after being evacuated from Libya by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The conditions in many camps in Libya are such that some migrants have chosen voluntarily to return to their native countries, but others reportedly have not been as fortunate. (Ahmed Ooba/AFP/Getty Images)

Burkina Faso's foreign minister said on Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

The decision by the West African nation followed the broadcast by CNN of footage of what it said was an auction of men offered to Libyan buyers as farmhands and sold for $400, a chilling echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade of centuries past.

Libya's ambassador to Burkina Faso said his country was being unfairly blamed for a global problem that all nations affected must come together to solve. Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision by President Roch Marc Kabore in a news conference.

The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation," Barry said.

He had also "summoned the Libyan charge d'affaires in [Burkina Faso's capital] Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade."

'Libya alone cannot solve this problem'

The video was on the mind of the UN secretary general as a resolution urging tougher action to crack down on human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide was unanimously approved by the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.

The resolution called on countries to adopt anti-trafficking laws, ramp up efforts to investigate and dismantle criminal networks and provide greater support for survivors of slavery.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged greater protection and aid for migrants at risk of trafficking in conflict-torn countries such as Libya.

"In recent days, we have all been horrified by images of African migrants beings sold as 'goods' in Libya," he said. "It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes."

Meanwhile, Libya's ambassador to Burkina Faso appealed for help from both the European Union and African Union to help Libya reach a lasting resolution of the migrant crisis in a news conference.

"Libya alone can not solve this problem," said Abdul Rahman Khameda.

"We call on the international community to intensify efforts to help Libya cope with this danger [illicit migration], which is tearing at its social fabric."

African and European leaders are due to meet next week in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, where migration and Europe's efforts to tackle it by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.

"Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya's name," Khameda said.

An agreement between Europe and Africa to stem the flow of migrants coming through Libya to Europe had failed to tackle the severe abuses they face, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein wrote in an article published in September.

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