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Abidjan Summit: Joint task force to be launched to free migrants

European Union and African Union heads of states pose during the opening ceremony of the fifth AU-EU summit in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on 29 November, 2017. Reuters/Luc Gnago

A task force to free migrants illegally detained in Libya backed by both the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) is to be set up "in a matter of weeks". The new strategy was announced in the Ivorian city of Abidjan at the AU-EU summit.

(Updated 12:30 GMT, November 30)

While the precise details of the force remain unclear, the French president Emmanuel Macron says the force will be "a joint policing and military operation to clear illegal detention centres and dismantle smuggling networks".

Howevever, sources at the summit say no foreign troops will be sent to Libya.

The European Commission said "the work of the task force will be closely coordinated with Libyan authorities".

The measures are to be coordinated with AU member states which will repatriate nationals freed by the task force.

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari said on the sidelines of the summit that he was appalled that Nigerians were being sold like "goats".

He was referring to a CNN documentary which showed sub-Saharan Africans being sold at a slave market in Libya.

Buhari said Nigeria would increase repatriation flights and promised to do more to more to "rehabilitate" those who returned home.