The African Union (AU) has urged its member countries to accelerate the evacuation and repatriation of its nationals who are trapped in Libya.
More than a million Africans are thought to have travelled to Europe since 2010, while thousands of people more are estimated to have perished in the Mediterranean Sea during the same time period.
The comments come in the aftermath of the death of 57 African migrants off the coast of Libya last week, adding to the number of African migrants who have drowned at sea while trying to get to Europe.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of the growing humanitarian catastrophe in the Mediterranean Sea,” stated the AU in a statement.
The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to assisting Libya and AU Member States in finding long-term solutions to Africa’s forced displacement and irregular migration.
Furthermore, the Commission urged the international community, particularly the European Union and the United Nations, to assist it in guaranteeing the protection of human life.
The Commission will continue to cooperate with the AU-EU-UN Task Force on Libya, which has returned and integrated more than 50,000 African migrants via their tripartite Humanitarian Return Programme, with the assistance of the African Union Liaison Office for Libya, the AU said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reiterated that returning migrants to Libya is a violation of human rights laws.
Since the instability that erupted in the aftermath of the February 17th revolution in 2011, Libya has become a point of departure for thousands of migrants seeking to flee Africa and cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.