Algeria is expelling thousands of migrants to Niger and abandoning them in the desert or transferring to Niger’s army, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The humanitarian organization conducted telephone interviews with migrants of various nationalities and aid workers. It found that Algerian authorities had expelled over 3,400 people of at least 20 nationalities to Niger, including 430 children.
Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa with 80 per cent of its surface on the Sahara desert, is part of the route of thousands of African migrants headed to Algerian coastal cities trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then, Europe.
HRW warns that in recent weeks there have been roundups across nine Algerian cities. Nigeriens were put in trucks and buses, while people of mixed nationalities were put together in other convoys and were abandoned in the desert near the border. Some of them were stripped of their belongings.
In the last years, Algeria has argued that the repatriation of migrants from Niger is enabled under a bilateral repatriation agreement between Algerian and Niger that was signed in 2014. Since then, the Algerian authorities have carried out mass arrests and expulsions to Niger of Nigerien migrants, but also of people from other Western African countries.