According to fortune.com, more than 150,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Europe from Libya in hopes of making their way to a new life every year for the past three years. More than 3,000 people have drowned each of the past four years trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Recently, with help from Italy, the Libyan coast guard has been capturing vessels smuggling people into Europe. It’s estimated that between 400,000 and 1 million migrants may now be trapped in Libya, where the vulnerable population is preyed upon by smugglers and other criminal elements who rob, rape, and murder them.
On Wednesday, nearly 250 Nigerian migrants returned to lagos.It is reported that the Nigerian government have been working with the International Organization of Migration and told CNN that a total of 5,000 Nigerians have come back from Libya in the past year.
As a Nigerian, the news I read about the Libyan 21st century slavery got my heart engulfed with sadness, incredulity and disappointment. Indeed this kind of happening is not just a violation of the rights of the victims but a sad indicator of inhumanity and the desperation of men.
While the United Nations summoned an emergency meeting almost immediately the news of the slavery went viral, the chairperson of the African Union Commission issued a press statement on the 18th of November,2017 condemning the slavery and indicated the intention of the AU to send convoys to Libya for “consultation”. 12 days after this press statement, we are yet to see any Pan-African effort to stop the slavery save individual efforts by states within Africa to rescue “her citizens” from the slave jungle. According to Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), IOM in partnership with African States has helped 13,000 people get out of detention centres in Libya in since the news of the slavery went viral.
Leaders,activists, celebrities and the entire globe have condemned the perturbing happening in Libya, but no one is looking beyond the sensitivity, emotions and inhumanity of the slavery. We all have chosen to undermine the cause of the slavery. No one is talking about the desperation of the victims and the slave lords.
Why are Nigerians, Cameroonians and Senegalese the victims of this menace ? Why are Italians not making attempts to cross the Mediterranean sea undocumented? Why do we have such huge influx of Nigerians in this situation? If our government have been dutiful to her people would we be faced with this sort of problem? If all African nations are truly united, will black men be subjected to such height of inhumanity and disregard on an African soil ? If the system of the great continent had an efficient immigration mechanism, are we ever going to be talking about this high level of illegal migration ? Would a man who feels a sense of satisfaction with governance in his homeland ever leave his beautiful home for a sojourn with an uncertain end ? What is the fate of the rescued victims ? What does the African Union have in place to curb illegal migration?
These in my opinion should be the second priority of the African Union and African states after the rescue of our brothers and sisters from Libya.
The ineffectiveness and overly ceremonial modus operandi of the African Union saddens me.
Anifowoshe Titilope LegalEagle writes from NYSC Camp, Karaye Kano State, Nigeria. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org