Davi Monyae is the director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Picture: Supplied

In Niamey, Niger, this week African leaders took the extraordinary decision of officially launching the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a critical pillar of the Agenda 2063, a step towards the ideal of pan-Africanism.

Shockingly, however, the AU didn't pay sufficient attention to the war crimes committed against African migrants in Libya.

Last Tuesday, the Tajoura detention centre housing roughly 610 mainly Africans was bombed, leaving more than 50 migrants dead and at least 130 wounded.

All credible reports point to Khalifa Hafta’s Libyan National Army to have committed this dreadful act. The irony is that the current chairperson of the AU, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, supports Khalifa Hafta and his murderous bandits.

Hafta has numerous backers and chief among them are the usual suspects, the US and France - countries that led the destruction of Libya and the assassination of its leader, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

The UN High Commissioner (UNHCR) for Refugees estimates that there are at least 10 million stateless people globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa had a total of 721326 stateless people in 2014. According to the Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion (2014), the UNHCR identifies South Africa as one of the six countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Zimbabwe) in Africa where there are significant challenges, but there's no supporting data.

This situation has been worsened by endless wars of choice fought in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Africa, on the other hand, confronts endless factors forcing people out of their countries. The bulk of migrants, including these stateless people, remain within the African continent.

However, a small number of the refugees take treacherous journeys through the Sahara Desert to Libya, trying their luck to access Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

Several thousand migrants have perished on these modern day self-enslavement voyages to Europe, fleeing from bad governance, conflicts, unemployment, hunger and worsening climate change.

Most migrants remain Eritreans, Somalians, Ethiopians, Sudan and others from Nigeria, the Gambia and Senegal.

As much as the migrant issue remains an African problem, the US and Europe are equally to blame. In addition, how can we explain the allegations of the involvement of some of our closest allies, such as Russian mercenaries in slaughtering of African migrants, while we stand and look?

The only African response from Addis Ababa is the usual well-crafted standard statement, “we condemn”. What about the reactions of other Africa's leading countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia? There's been deafening silence from these capitals in the aftermath of these atrocities. These leading countries in Africa must strongly call for action to be taken against Khalifa Hafta.

Khalifa Hafta is a naturalised US citizen. He was a former confidant general of Gaddafi, with whom he staged the 1969 coup that ended King Idris’s reign and ushered in Gaddafi’s rule of four decades.

However, Hafta was captured in Libya’s war with Chad in the mid-1980s. As a result, Hafta settled in Virginia in the US, where he stayed for 20 years.

When President Obama, working closely with France attacked Libya in 2011, Hafta was fronted as a trusted general who could stabilise Libya.

When one pays attention to President Donald Trump's attitude towards migrants, it becomes clear that under current circumstances, if one were searching for a moral lodestar and a luminary of championing the cause of the world's most vulnerable populations, the US is the last place of recourse.

* Monyae is the director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.