A video footage showing migrants apparently being sold at slave auction in Libya has provoked global outrage and the UN Secretary-General has called on the international community to “unite in fighting this scourge”.
It is understood that in the grainy mobile footage, unidentified men are offered up as a group of “big strong boys for farm work”.
“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he’ll dig,” the auctioneer, who is dressed in camouflage gear, is heard saying.
“Big strong boys,” the man said in the video, according to a CNN narrator. “400 … 700 … 800,” he called out the mounting prices.
The men were sold for as little as £300, the US broadcaster reported.
After the footage emerged, protests erupted in Paris and other cities, while Libyans expressed solidarity with the victims with the hashtag #LibyansAgainstSlavery.
Several world leaders also spoke against it.
The chairman of the African Union, Guinean President Alpha Condé, called it a “despicable trade … from another era” on Friday.
The U.N. Support Mission in Libya said Wednesday that it was “dismayed and sickened,” and is “actively pursuing” the matter with Libyan authorities.
“I am horrified at news reports and video footage showing African migrants in Libya reportedly being sold as slaves,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said to reporters on Monday.
“Slavery has no place in our world, and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Guterres called for the international community to unite in fighting the abuse and smuggling of migrants, notably by increasing avenues for legal migration and enhancing international cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers.
Meanwhile, the Libyan government said it has launched an investigation into the slave auctions, adding that the international community needed to provide more support if it was going to tackle the problem.