Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Nigerian government has started bringing stranded citizens home from Libya, after a global outcry over reports that migrants there were being sold into slavery.
His comments come days after the US network CNN aired footage that appeared to show men being auctioned as farm hands in Libya, after being smuggled across the Sahara.
Libya’s United Nations-backed government has said it is investigating.
“The situation in Libya, of people being sold into slavery, is appalling and unacceptable. We will do everything to protect our citizens wherever they might be”, Buhari wrote on his Twitter account.
Nigeria had “started bringing back home all Nigerians stranded in Libya and elsewhere,” he added.
The UN’s International Organisation for Migration said 239 Nigerians flew home from Tripoli.
It said Nigerian migrants risk exploitation, detention and abuse as they head north to Libya, hoping to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
France has said it wants the UN Security Council to consider imposing targeted sanctions on human traffickers operating in Libya after video footage emerged.
Several members of the 15-member Security Council expressed their horror at the footage, during a meeting requested by France, to discuss human trafficking in Libya.
French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said the council should use sanctions to help stamp out trafficking in Libya.