Disturbing images and stories of modern-day slave auctions in Libya did not evoke mass demonstrations in Africa, yet U.S. president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital drew a quick response from Somalia, Tunisia, Djibouti and the African Union.
Thousands in Tunisia, Somalia, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco marched in several towns in support of the Palestinian struggle on Thursday while condemning the decision of the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem which they describe as a “dangerous” move.
@ActualidadRT Thousands of people demonstrated today in various cities of Tunisia (Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa, Kébili, Sfax and Kairoua) to protest against the decision of the president of the United States, Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel pic.twitter.com/eqzptzN5Mq
— Jose León García (@catire701939) December 8, 2017
Watch:Huge protest against Trump decision of recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital hits in Mogadishu's Somali capital. Hundreds of Mogadishuans gathered Zoope junction where hundreds of civilians killed in October bombing,showing in solidarity with Plastinian people. pic.twitter.com/QQ8s96QYdu
— Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul (@MohaBulbul) December 8, 2017
— Ahram Online (@ahramonline) December 8, 2017
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Muslim-Shiite, is planning simultaneous demonstrations after Jumaa prayers across the country, especially in the northern States on Friday in protest of US President recognising Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
— Richard Israel (@Isrimmsky1) December 8, 2017
The governments of Somalia and Djibouti issued statements calling on the U.S. to “seriously reconsider the risks that its decision could have on the future of the Middle East and the world in general” while expressing “commitment to the two-state solution … with East Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state.”
The African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement that the continental body is in solidarity “with the Palestinian people and its support to their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Palestine has observer status at the African Union which makes the decision of the body to support the embattled state obvious.
President Trump’s immediate response after CNN’s report on the Libya modern day slavery was an attack on the U.S. media calling them “a major source of (Fake) news” outside the country.
.@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2017
He did not express interest in the African problem and his tweet became a point of reference to some Libyan media and diplomats who questioned the footage and report.
Libya’s modern day slavery issue has been reported months ago by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) who documented stories of victims rescued from the troubled country.
Short-lived demonstrations were held in Africa while bigger demonstrations against the human rights abuse in Libya were staged in London and Paris to elicit a swift action from world leaders.
The AU said weeks later that a joint task force with the help of the United Nations and the European Union “plans to repatriate within the next 6 weeks, 20,000 migrants in identified government-controlled detention centres, who wish to leave Libya.”
1/5: AU-led Task Force with UN and EU plans to repatriate within the next 6 weeks, 20,000 migrants in identified govt-controlled detention centers, who wish to leave #Libya.
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) December 6, 2017
The Libyan government says it will investigate the migrant slave auctions after pressure to find the perpetrators – believed to include government officials.
The footage showed about 10 men being sold for $400 as farm labourers in a night auction in the country where smugglers are reported to have robbed, kidnapped, abused and killed migrants who are unable to pay for their freedom.
The AU Commission chairperson Mahamat released details of the measures the AU will take on the Libyan issue minutes after releasing its statement on Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Other priorities include working with AU Member States to provide consular services to their nationals stranded in Libya, identify and provide them with travel documents; Libyan authorities to grant landing permits; and neighbouring countries to provide overflight permission.
“On 5 Dec 2017, I also met with the Permanent Representatives of 21 member states that either have nationals stranded in Libya or share a border with Libya and highlighted our collective duty to act quickly to ease the suffering of stranded African migrants.
“I also called on concerned Member States to send consular officials to speedily provide consular services, including identification of their nationals and issuance of emergency travel documents with support of the AU Liaison Office for Libya. All agreed.
“I further urged Libyan authorities to ensure the safety and security of migrants held in Govt-controlled detention centres, facilitate access to ALL detention centres for consular officials from the migrants’ countries of origin and officials from the AU and the UN Migration Agency.”
Nigerians are estimated to be the majority of migrants in detention centres in Libya. Over a thousand were repatriated in the past month with the help of the UN Migration Agency IOM which has for years organised voluntary repatriation.
More than 150,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe through Libya. More than 3,000 have drowned each year in the past four years.
The European Union was strongly criticised for supporting Libyan authorities who arrested migrants in boats and kept them in the overcrowded detention centres where they faced torture and abuse.
For now, protests on the Libyan migrant slave auction exposé have died down, the time frame for the investigations into the incidents have not been set, stranded migrants locked up in detention centres are being repatriated and justice is yet to be served.