Opposition politician Mama Kandeh expressed dismay at the treatment of migrants, mostly from Western Africa, who are sold into slavery in Libya, urging the Gambia’s government to do more in bringing migrant citizens to safety.
Kandeh was the first political leader in the country to speak against enslaving of migrants that are attempting to be smuggled across the Mediterranean into southern Europe in search of better opportunities to free their families from poverty.
“I have learned with utmost dismay the trading of young Gambians and Africans in modern-day slave action markets in Libya. We are condemning this disgusting, barbaric, immoral and inhumane act currently being meted on our brothers and sisters on their own continent,” said Kandeh.
“I am urging the government to act swiftly and do whatever it takes to save our brothers and sister in Libya. Our young men and women did nothing to deserve this and their only goal is to improve the lives and livelihood of their families.”
West African authorities, including leaders in Senegal, Guinea, and Gambia have all condemned the slave auctions. Burkina Faso recalled its Ambassador to Tripoli and demanded an explanation from Libyan authorities.
At least 1,500 Gambian migrants have been repatriated since April with the help of the International Organization for Migration. Most of them were kidnapped or held in dilapidated detention centers in Western Libya where they were subjected to hunger, torture and other inhumane treatment.
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.