Algeria continues illegal refoulements of sub-Saharan migrants: 2,800 abandoned in the desert, 899 in one day: Hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants were recently deported by Algeria to the border with Niger in inhumane conditions. These new exports come almost a month after 899 migrants from 16 African countries were deported on February 12, 2023.
Algeria continues illegal refoulements of sub-Saharan migrants: 2,800 abandoned in the desert, 899 in one day.
Hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants were recently deported by Algeria to the border with Niger in inhumane conditions. These new exports come almost a month after 899 migrants from 16 African countries were deported on February 12, 2023.
Algeria continues its policy of inhumane refoulement of sub-Saharan migrants to Niger. The latest was the expulsion of 2,852 people from some 15 countries, according to the NGO group Alarm Phone Sahara (APS). In a message posted on its Twitter account on Friday, March 10, it revealed that the first convoy of 993 migrants deported on February 23 was mainly made up of Guineans (346), Malians (218), Ivorians (126), Senegalese (51), Gambians (69), Sierre-Léonais (36), Beninese (24), Sudanese (24), and Burkinabe (18). In the second convoy of 1,180 migrants, which arrived at the border on March 3, the majority were Guineans (318), Malians (308), Gambians (116), Ivorians (89), Senegalese (79), Sudanese (49), Cameroonians (35), and Sierra Leoneans (37). And in the last contingent that arrived on March 5, there were 679 migrants, mainly Nigerians (639), Guineans (48) and Malians (12).
Before being parked in the middle of the Sahara, under a blazing sun, these migrants live a real ordeal in Algeria. They are brutally arrested in different cities, notably in Oran, and then placed in the prison of Adrar, before being deported to the refoulement center of Tamanrasset, located 1900 km south of Algiers. Stripped of their cell phones, passports, jewelry, cash, etc., they are crammed into trucks and thrown into the desert.
Once deposited at the border between the two countries, in an area known as Point Zero, they must then travel a distance of 15 km to arrive in the village of Assamaka, which houses the transit camp of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger. Some, exhausted by the long journey, lose their lives. Others are exposed to attacks by armed gangs operating in the area. “We were abandoned at Point-Zero at 2:00 a.m. and had to walk with our crutches for hours. We only arrived in Assamaka at 11 a.m.,” Alpha Mohamed, a Guinean national, told the Infomigrants website in November 2022.
And they are not at the end of their troubles. Most of them are sleeping in open sheds, under the stars, as they cannot access this place whose maximum capacity is 1,000 people. “The situation has worsened since IOM Niger in Assamaka stopped receiving and registering new people. Sub-Saharan migrants are left to fend for themselves without food or a place to sleep. They are forced to live and struggle on the streets,” says Alarm Phone Sahara. According to her, “this situation is increasingly endangering the safety of the evicted people, but also of the local inhabitants, and evokes a humanitarian crisis! We therefore ask for an immediate stop to the deportations”.
These new exports come almost a month after those of 899 migrants from 16 African countries orchestrated by Algiers on 12 February 2023. This attitude is becoming an unfortunate habit of the Algerian authorities. According to the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), 23,171 migrants were expelled in 2020, 27,208 in 2021 and 14,196 between January and May 2022. In 2022, it had denounced “the inhumane treatment” inflicted on these migrants. According to the United Nations, since 2014, Algeria has deported tens of thousands of people from West and Central Africa to Niger, flouting the most basic rules of human rights. Inhumane deportations have also been denounced by the NGO Human Rights Watch and some Algerian NGOs.
These waves of denunciation contrast with the African Union’s omerta on the issue. The pan-African organization, which recently condemned the racist remarks of Tunisian President Kais Saied, should do the same on these degrading and inhumane practices of Algiers.