UN calls social media giants to control platforms used to lure African migrants

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The UN migration agency called on social media giants on Friday to control their platforms that it said are being used by smugglers to lure West African migrants to Libya where they face detention, torture and slavery.

The smugglers often use Facebook to reach would-be migrants with false promises, International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a briefing.

When migrants are tortured video is also sometimes sent back to their families over WhatsApp, he said.

“We think it's time for some grown-up responsibility by the social media companies writ-large for their platforms which are clearly having a very detrimental role on young vulnerable populations across West Africa,” Doyle said.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014 and many have died en route. The influx has presented a political problem for European countries. Numbers of migrants entering Europe are down this year.

The IOM also said it was repatriating 4,000 migrants to Niger and 167 to Guinea from Libya under its voluntary repatriation program which hopes to return home 15,000 by year-end.

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