France Will Accept More African Refugees Amidst Crisis
As the Mediterranean refugee crisis continues to worsen, the French Republic is paying close attention to the reports and assessments issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). France will grant admission to the first group of African individuals and families who were relocated from Libya to Niger by the UNHCR for the purpose of keeping them away from slave traders.
Over the last few months, the international humanitarian agency has been monitoring the situation in Libya, a lawless country in Northern Africa that has been turned into a staging area for refugees who plunge into the Mediterranean in the hopes of reaching European shores. The UNHCR has opened relief centers for these refugees to prevent them from falling prey to human smugglers who do business in the Libyan slave markets.
France will give refuge to 25 people from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan who had been targeted by slave traders in Libya; these refugees were transferred to Niger in haste by UNHCR rescue workers. French officials visited the UN camps in Niger and made a commitment to take in these refugees, who are mostly women and children. This decision was made after a tense meeting in Geneva, where UN officials chastised the European Union for working with Libyan law enforcement to intercept migrants at sea and returning them to corrupt detention camps where human smugglers have set up shop.
Pascal Brice, the French director of a government agency tasked with handling refugee matters, explained that the decision to grant immediate protection was based on the ordeal that this group of refugees went through. Monsieur Brice issued a call to other European nations as well as to Canada and th United States to help at a time when African males are being sold for as little as $500 on the Libyan slave markets.
France has also agreed to take in an additional 47 refugees transferred to the UNHCR center in Niger. The UNHCR has thus far registered nearly 45,000 refugees in Libya who are at risk of being traded in slave markets; however, the humanitarian relief camps in Niger have already reached their capacity.
UN officials are also concerned about political stability in Niger, a country that has been working with U.S. special forces to combat the growing threat of extremists and terrorist organizations that prey on tribal villages where the government is not able to instill security due to low resources.
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