Murmurs that some armed groups in Libya were selling – as slaves – stranded migrants seeking greener pastures across the Mediterranean had been doing the rounds for some time. But it was not until footage of an actual sale was shared online that the world woke up in shock.
That in this day and age such inhuman behaviour exists in our midst is mind blowing. African leaders and celebrities came out in force expressing their indignation. But that was it. None of them came up with a viable solution on the way forward – not until Rwanda stepped in, that is.
By offering to airlift the migrants back to their homelands, or alternatively, resettle around 30,000 (according to AU reports), Rwanda has shown mature leadership in the quest of African solidarity and cooperation.
Most of the asylum seekers and migrants hail from West and the Horn of Africa, but this gesture did not need to have geographical proximity as the driving reason to extend a helping hand. It is setting the bar for other African nations and hopefully it is not too high.
It will be interesting to see how many other countries will follow in Rwanda’s footsteps. Those that contribute most to the migrant crisis are conspicuously absent at a time when they are needed most to console and give hope to their countrymen and women.
We had become accustomed to occasional cases to xenophobic attacks against Africans – especially in South Africa – and a measure of discrimination in Arab states, but putting a fellow African on the auction block is reminiscent of the 19th century slave trade.
But this state of affairs will not be swept under the carpet after the current crisis had been dealt with; countries that produce migrants should undergo some soul searching as to why their people keep fleeing in droves, ready to risk their lives and freedom. As long as that is not addressed, it will remain a vicious cycle.