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More than 600 migrants from different African countries have arrived in northern Niger after being turned back from Algeria, local authorities told AFP on Tuesday, September 20
According to the authorities, some 669 people turned back from Algeria, including two Nigeriens, and 667 West and Central African nationals arrived “on foot” on September 17 in Assamaka, the Nigerien town closest to the Algerian border, after being turned back from neighboring Algeria.
Of the 667 migrants, 648 were men, 14 were women, and 5 minors. They include 286 Malians, 166 Guineans, 37 Burkinabe, 27 Senegalese, and 25 Beninese.
The group also includes 22 Ivorians, 21 Gambians, 21 Sudanese, 19 Nigerians, 14 Cameroonians, and 14 Sierra Leoneans. In addition, nationals from Chad, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Togo are among those turned back.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has “confirmed” to AFP “the arrival of the wave of migrants” from Algeria, without however advancing the number.
“We are willing to aid the migrants who wish to integrate our program of assistance to voluntary return can be admitted at our transit center of Assamaka,” assured the IOM.
On September 6, some 847 migrants, mostly Nigeriens, including 40 women and 74 unaccompanied children, had arrived in Agadez, after being turned back from Algeria, the municipality of this large city in northern Niger had told AFP.
Considered an El Dorado and a transit point to Europe, Algeria has expelled tens of thousands of irregular migrants from West and Central Africa since 2014, according to the United Nations.
Some of these migrants are trying to survive in Algeria, often by begging, but many are primarily seeking to reach Europe.
In early July, the IOM announced that it had rescued 50 West African migrants, including women and children, “stranded” in the desert north of Niger, near the border with Libya, another transit point for illegal migrants to Europe.
In June, the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced the “inhumane treatment” inflicted on West African migrants seeking to reach Europe, of whom “on average 2,000” are turned back each month from Algeria and Libya to neighboring Niger.
Algeria, which has no asylum legislation, has often denied these accusations, denouncing a “malicious campaign.