At least three Ghanaian migrants are said to be among those who were auctioned as slaves in Libya, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said yesterday.
The identities of the three are yet to be established, but they have told Ghanaian officials that they were abducted by their captors when they ran out of funds to continue their journey across North Africa, through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Video footage of migrants sold in apparent slave auction in Libya has provoked worldwide condemnation, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres urging the international community to unite in fighting this modern-day slavery.
In a statement on social media, President Akufo-Addo condemned the slave auctions, which were brought to light in a special report by CNN.
Men from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries were sold to buyers for about $400 in Libya.
“The current slave auctions of Africans in Libya are not only gross and scandalous abuses of human rights, but are also mockeries of the alleged solidarity of African nations grouped in the African Union (AU), of which Libya is a member,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
Some 168 Ghanaians were earlier reportedly caught up in the situation but authorities have confirmed that these Ghanaians are being kept in formal detention centres in Libya due to non-possession of proper travel documents and are awaiting deportation.
A statement issued in Accra on Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry said the detainees were arrested on “illegal immigration charges and were already being held in detention camps.”
The Foreign Minister indicated that the three persons, who are reportedly victims of the slavery, are among the 168 identified at the detention camp.
Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed utter shock at the way Africans from the sub-Saharan region are being maltreated, brutalized, dehumanized and sold as ‘slaves’ at a pittance of between $200 and $500 in Libya by Libyans in the 21st Century.
The MPs were disgusted at the maltreatment after the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament and MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, made an urgent statement on the floor of the house concerning the disgusting migration situation in Libya.
In a statement calling for immediate action to be taken by the African Union (AU) against such barbaric treatment, Mr Annoh-Dompreh claimed investigations by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had shown that African migrants were being traded in garages and car parks in Libya’s main people-smuggling southern city of Sabha.
According to him, a lot of the migrant captives who are unable to pay their captors, are reportedly killed or left to starve to death and that when migrants die, others are purchased to replace them.
“Mr speaker, evidence abounds that the situation is so dire,” Mr Annoh-Dompreh said, stressing that statistics indicate that estimated 26,886 migrants crossed to Italy in 2017 from different African countries, which is over 7,000 more than the number during the same period in 2016, while 600 are known to have died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
“The situation is alarming and I wish to use this opportunity to call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations and the Libyan Government to conduct conclusive investigations into this matter because of the alleged slave trade in the country which has sparked outrage around the world,” he urged.
The MP for North Tongu and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said he got so angry when he watched how Africans were treating their fellow African brothers in the CNN documentary because of their dark skin.
According to him, it was the most horrendous and barbaric scene he had witnessed in modern days, adding that black Africans were tied and beaten mercilessly and sold for just $300 and $400.
The MP for Wa Central, Rashid Pelpuo, said he had also watched the documentary and could not believe his eyes.
He said that it was very unfortunate that after African leaders had solidly stood behind Libya to fight US aggression towards the people of that country, could be so callous to Ghanaians.
He therefore called on the AU to call for an emergency summit and send military force to Libya to save all Africans being taken through this horrifying ordeal.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr