The French government has resettled the first batch of African refugees in an initiative that aims to offer asylum to African migrants, especially those considered to be extremely vulnerable.
The group, which comprises of 19 Sudanese refugees, eleven of them children, was selected from a refugee camp in Chad, where hundreds of thousands of African refugees from neighboring countries are currently being hosted.
The migrants who arrived in France on Monday are currently being held at a convent in Alsace, eastern France, where they are expected to stay for the next four months before they are moved to lodgings, according to AFP.
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A French official, who requested anonymity because they were not allowed to make any official statement, also told AFP that another batch of 25 African refugees pre-selected in Niger will be arriving on Tuesday followed by another group on Wednesday.
Under this program, which is being supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), France has committed to resettle 3,000 migrants from Chad and Niger, and 7,000 others from the Middle East over the next two years.
The project is part of “protection missions” established in Chad and Niger, where migrants often pass on their way to Europe through the Mediterranean route. The initiative was established for the purpose of enabling African refugees fleeing war and persecution to migrate to Europe legally.
For one to qualify for this program, their name must be on an eligibility list provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and be registered with authorities in Niger and Chad, AFP reports.
The resettlement comes at a time when the world is receiving shocking reports of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya. A recent report by the CNN showed young African men being auctioned at various slave markets in Libya, with some of them being sold for as little as $400.
There have also been reports of African migrants being held to ransom by criminal gangs in Libya, with women and girls being forced into prostitution. It is estimated that thousands of migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, die every year while trying to reach Europe via the Libya-Mediterranean route.
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