Jakarta. Libya has called for support from the international community to address the problem of refugees stranded in the country, after a CNN report exposed the slave trade in the country.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that migrants and refugees stuck in Libya have been sold into slavery. The news agency released a hidden-camera footage of a transaction, showing youths from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries sold to buyers for several hundred dollars at undisclosed locations in Libya.
The report sparked outrage across the globe.
The United Nations-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has subsequently launched a formal investigation.
At a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (30/11), Libyan ambassador for Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Sadegh M.O. Bensadegh, referred to the allegations made by CNN as "unsubstantiated."
"It is likely that what appeared to be human trafficking was in fact human smuggling and bargaining for transport costs involving international crossborder gangs," Bensadegh told reporters.
He said that this likelihood is further supported by the "meager value" shown in the CNN footage, which "did not exceed one month's salary for any worker in the occupations of expatriate workers."
In April, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it has documented evidence of slave markets in Libya.
"The situation is dire ... Some reports are truly horrifying and the latest reports of slave markets for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages," IOM director of operation and emergencies Mohammed Abdiker said in a statement.
Tens of thousands of people pour across Libya's borders annually, most of them refugees fleeing conflict or economic migrants in search of better opportunities in Europe.
The current number of migrants in Libya is estimated at 700,000, according to the United Nations.
Bensadegh said that his country has received "very limited assistance from the international community" to address the migrant crisis, and called for more support to increase the country's technical and logistic capabilities.
He added that long-term efforts involving investment and development projects in the migrants' countries of origin should help alleviate poverty, which drives the migration flow.
Bensadegh said Libya is "deeply concerned about the true purpose" of the ongoing media and political campaign against it, as he criticized countries that "refuse to accept migrants entering their territory and do not help bear the cost of stopping this phenomenon."
"They shouldn't come and teach us lessons on humanity," Bensadegh said.
According to reports by Reuters, the European Union, the UN and the African Union this week agreed to launch an emergency plan to dismantle people smuggling networks and repatriate migrants stranded in Libya.