The government of Burkina Faso has recalled its ambassador to Libya, General Abraham Traore, following a damning report by CNN showing African migrants being sold as slaves in Libyan detention camps.
The recall was announced on Monday by Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alpha Barry, at a press conference in Burkinabe’s capital Ouagadougou.
“The President of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli [Libya’s capital], General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry was quoted by Reuters.
He added that Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré had also summoned the Libyan charge d’affairs in Ouagadougou to express the government’s anger at the horrifying images of migrants being auctioned like commodities.
The recall comes a few days after CNN aired an investigative piece showing young African men being sold off to Libyan slave masters as farmhands. The report alleged that some of the migrants are being sold for as little as $400.
But Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Abdul Rahman Khameda, has faulted the move by President Kaboré, saying Libya is being indicted unfairly for a problem that can only be solved collectively by all the affected nations.
Khameda called on the European Union and the African Union to assist Libya in finding a long-term solution to the worsening migrant crisis. He wants the international community to work with Libya in coping with the crisis, which he says is threatening the country’s social fabric.
“Libya alone cannot solve this problem. Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya’s name,” Khameda was quoted by Reuters.
The Libyan migration crisis is set to be discussed next week in Abidjan, Ivory Coast at a high-level meeting involving African and Europeans leaders.
Thousands of African migrants are currently being held in various detention camps in Libya, where reports indicate that they are exposed to all manner of abuses, both by the Libyan authorities and local militia.
Commenting on the CNN report on Monday, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the report reveals some of the “most egregious abuses of human rights”, adding that they may amount to crimes against humanity.
He also called on all relevant authorities to investigate the matter without delay and ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.
“I have asked the relevant United Nations actors to actively pursue this matter,” Guterres told CNN.
Most of the victims are refugees from sub-Saharan Africa attempting to reach Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. Many of those who are lucky to escape arrest by Libyan authorities end up drowning in the sea when their flimsy boats capsize. So far, tens of thousands of African migrants have died in the perilous journey.