Among the six now sanctioned is Ermias Ghermay of Eritrea, described as a leader of a network responsible for "trafficking and smuggling tens of thousands of migrants" from the Horn of Africa to the coast of Libya and onwards to Europe and the United States, according to the original sanctions request obtained by AFP.
With the full support of the Government of Libya, Ghermay Ermias, Abdelrazak Fitiwi, Oumar Ahmad, Abu Qarin Mus'ab, Kachlaf Mohammed, and Al-Rahman Abd al-Milad, will now be subject to asset freezes and global travel ban sanctions by all United Nations member states, effective immediately.
The sanctioned men are four Libyans, including a regional coast guard leader and militia head, and two Eritrean nationals.
The proposal came after a video appearing to show African migrants sold as slaves sparked global outrage late a year ago.
These sanctions directly target six individuals who are complicit in committing serious human rights abuses against migrants, including women and children.
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Libya emerged as a major conduit for African migrants hoping to reach Europe after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed the country's longtime dicatator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and the country slid into chaos, with rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.
"Today's sanctions send a strong message that the worldwide community is united in seeking accountability for perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling", said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, in a statement. "Meanwhile, these sanctions are the first step towards ensuring justice for their victims, and also towards ending the cycle of violence and abuse that has plagued post-revolution Libya".
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday slapped sanctions on six leaders of human trafficking networks operating in Libya, a first for the world body, diplomats said.
Smugglers have taken advantage of insecurity in Libya to move hundreds of thousands of migrants by sea to Europe.
There is also an established link between the said smugglers syndicate and Islamic State group jihadists.
But the Aegean isn't the only route for refugees - the central and eastern Mediterranean routes leading to Italy were still somewhat accessible (and horribly risky), which is why the European Union entered into a shady agreement with Libyan militia, paying them to prevent migrants and refugees from crossing at times deadly waters and locking them up in detention centers instead.