Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway has revealed that at least three Ghanaian migrants have reported being among those who were auctioned as slave$ in Libya.
The claimants whose identities have not yet been established, are said to have told Ghanaian officials that they were captured after they ran out of funds to continue their journey across the Maghreb region into Europe.
The video footage of migrants sold in apparent slave auction in Libya provoked worldwide outrage, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres urging the international community to unite in fighting this scourge.
In the grainy mobile footage, unidentified men are offered up as a group of “big strong boys for farm work” for as little as £300, international broadcaster, CNN reported.
Some 168 Ghanaians were early on reportedly caught up in the situation but authorities have confirmed that these Ghanaians are being kept in formal detention centers in Libya due to non-possession of proper travel documents and are awaiting deportation.
In a statement Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said the detainees were arrested on “illegal immigration charges and were already being held in detention camps.”
However, speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM a day after the statement was issued, the Foreign Minister indicated that the three persons who reported being victims to the act, are part of the 168 identified at the detention camp.
The Ghanaian authorities, with assistance from the UN-backed government in Libya, are investigating the issue to identify all Ghanaians and arrange for their repatriation, the Minister said.
Lack of access
They are, however, challenged mainly with the inaccessibility of other cities as the political situation in the country has led to the formation of three different governments and gaining entry into cities under the control of rebel governments is virtually impossible.
“It is even difficult for you to be given entry into other cities under the control of other governments,” Ayorkor Botchway told Kojo Yankson, host of the Super Morning Show, from Abdjan, Cote d’Ivoire where the AU – EU summit is taking place.
The Minister expressed surprise that families of migrants are not reporting to the authorities back home about their inability to establish contact with their relatives which could serve as the lead to initiate investigations.
“You don’t even know how many Ghanaians have been subjected to these cruel acts of human trafficking…because people have not reported,” she stated.
According to her, the Ghana government is working at re-opening its consulate in Libya by February 2018 after it was shut down due to fears of insecurity, following the political turbulence in the country.
“Once it is approved by cabinet we will go through the process…I’m sure by the next two months it should be opened because we have properties there.”
African Leaders meet
The matter is said to be key on the agenda at the ongoing fifth African Union – European Union (AU-EU) summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The summit, which took off Wednesday, November 29 and expected to end on Thursday, the 30th, is themed: “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”.
Other priorities of the EU-Africa partnership to be discussed include governance and democracy, human rights, migration and mobility, peace and security, investment and trade, skills development as well as job creation.
At the summit, African and EU leaders will discuss the future of EU-Africa relations and focus on investing in the youth. This is a key priority for Africa and the EU as 60 percent of the African population is under the age of 25.
The AU-EU summit will be a key moment and opportunity to strengthen political and economic ties between the two continents.
2017 is a defining year for EU-Africa relations, as it has been ten years since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.