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Canada opens doors to 750 ex-slaves from Libya

The number of migrants travelling through Libya to reach Europe has increased tenfold [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2019

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Canada will welcome some 750 ex-slaves from Libya as refugees, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said on Wednesday.
Some 750 former slaves will be welcomed into Canada as refugees, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said on Wednesday.

Canadian authorities have already welcomed 150 refugees and will resettle the remaining number in the coming two years.

The move to accept migrants from Libya came after a dramatic CNN report in 2017 revealed how they were being bought and sold in a Libyan slave market.

The number of migrants travelling through Libya to reach Europe has increased tenfold since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, according to the United Nations. 

"In 2017, the world was shocked to see the harrowing images of people being sold into slavery in Libya," the minister said in a statement.

"Canada was one of the few countries to step up to work with the UNHCR to resettle these refugees directly from Libya and offer them a new home in Canada," said Hussen, himself a former refugee from Somalia.

Canada is "also taking action to resettle 100 refugees from Niger, rescued from Libyan migrant detention centres, including victims of human smuggling," Hussen said. 

"Some people have already begun to arrive in Canada," he added.

A year ago, a UN report addressed to the 15 members of the Security Council and seen by AFP, affirmed that due to political chaos, human trafficking was booming in Libya - and facilitated by rebel and government forces.

"Canadians have always been welcoming to newcomers, and that generosity has helped offer protection to those fleeing persecution, terror and war," Hussen added.

Last year, the annual Global Trends report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees showed the worldwide total number of displaced people reached a record 68.5 million in 2017, due to global wars, violence and persecution.

Canada has been praised in recent years for welcoming a large number of refugees, with statistics noting it became the ninth-largest recipient of asylum seekers, more than doubling the number of claims in a single year at 47,800.

Last month, Canada quickly stepped in to resettle Saudi teenage runaway Rahaf al-Qunun after she took to Twitter to publicise her attempts to flee alleged abuse from her family.

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