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Rwanda offers refuge to 'migrants held captive in Libya'

CAPTIVE: African migrants in Libya (Photo credit: CNN Photo)

RWANDA HAS offered to provide refuge to as many as 30,000 African migrants suffering abuse and slave-like conditions in Libya.

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who made the announcement on Nov. 22, said the figure “is not confirmed yet but an estimate”.

“It has just been decided so numbers and means are still under discussion but Rwanda estimates the number to be welcomed around 30,000,” she said.

Speaking to AFP, Mushikiwabo said: “Rwanda, like the rest of the world, was horrified by the images of the tragedy currently unfolding in Libya, where African men, women and children who were on the road to exile, have been held and turned into slaves.”

“Given Rwanda’s political philosophy and our own history, we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,” she said referring to the 1994 genocide in where around 800,000 mostly Tutsi people were killed while the outside world looked on.

Rwanda is a tiny country with a population of nearly 12 million and Mushikiwabo acknowledged that it “may not be able to welcome everyone, but our door is wide open”.

Rwanda’s offer follows the release of CNN footage of a live auction in Libya. At a property outside the capital of Tripoli, the news site witnessed a dozen men being sold like commodities, with some auctioned off for as little as $400.

CNN was told of auctions at nine locations across Libya, but many more are believed to take place each month.

Libyan authorities have since launched a formal investigation into the slave auctions, according to Anes Alazabi, an official with the internationally recognised Libyan government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency.

“Priorities of the investigation are not only to convict those responsible for these inhumane acts, but also to identify the location of those who have been sold in order to bring them to safety and return them to their countries of origin.”

Since then, protests have taken place across Europe, with another planned in London on December 9.

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