Algeria abandons 13,000 refugees in the Sahara, people have to walk under the sun or die, BBC reported. International Organisation (IOM) for Migration has warned of a looming ‘catastrophe’.
The African country has reportedly expelled the migrants without food or water and forced them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint. The Algerian migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds under temperatures of up to 48C. In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15km no-man’s-land to the border village of Assamaka.
Untold numbers die, with nearly all of the more than two dozen survivors telling of people in their groups who simply vanished in the Sahara. Since last October, Algeria’s mass expulsions have picked up drastically, that time the European Union renewed pressure on North African countries to head off migrants going north to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea or the barrier fences with Spain.
The absence of logic in the decisions of the EU caused the dangerous confusion in the minds of the potential migrants from Africa. People started to head to EU at any price. A European Union spokesman said the EU was aware of what Algeria was doing, but that “sovereign countries” can expel migrants as long as they comply with international law.
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Unlike Niger, Algeria takes none of the EU money intended to help with the migration and refugee crisis, although it did receive $111.3m in aid from Europe between 2014 and 2017.
Algeria provides no figures for its involuntary expulsions. But the number of people crossing on foot to Niger has been increasing since the IOM started counting in May 2017, when 135 people were dropped, to as high as 2,888 in April 2018.
The Algerian officials prefer not to comment the migrant catastrophe, hoping reportedly that Sahara is a swift killer that leaves little evidence behind. In past, Algeria has denied criticism that it is committing rights abuses by abandoning migrants in the desert, calling the allegations a “malicious campaign” intended to inflame neighbouring countries.