The United Nations called Mr. Ghermay “one of the most important sub-Saharan actors involved in the illicit trafficking of migrants in Libya.” The sanctions go into effect immediately.
“Last fall, images of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya shocked our conscience, and the Security Council vowed to take action,” Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement. “Today’s sanctions send a strong message that the international community is united in seeking accountability for perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling.”
Under a sanctions regime set up in 2011, the Security Council can impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on “individuals and entities involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya.”
Libya descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 led to the overthrow and killing of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, with two competing governments backed by militias scrambling for control of the oil-producing country. Islamic State militants also gained a foothold there.
Smugglers operating with impunity in Libya have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants by sea to Europe, mainly Italy, since 2014, and thousands have died during the voyages.