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Algeria Accused of Dumping Migrants in Sahara Desert

Algeria has been accused of abandoning migrants in the Sahara Desert, a development the UN has warned could trigger another crisis.

Picture of border post along Algeria-Niger border. Courtesy: Twitter/Giuseppe Loprete

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said that it has been forced to take in and handle some 10,000 migrants who were left to die in the desert since September.

The situation is likely to create a humanitarian crisis along the Niger border. Many of the migrants were abandoned by traffickers and a significant number deported by Algerian authorities.

These migrants have to endure harsh conditions in the desert hoping to reach the nearest border town. Many who are unable to endure the heat die in the process.

One migrant, from Mali, recounted his own experience to the BBC by saying that “They took all our belongings – money, mobiles, everything. They treated us badly. They dropped us in the Sahara Desert.”

The migrant also said that “we were forced to walk dozens of kilometres to reach Assamaka, the border town. It was like walking through hell. Pregnant women and underage children were trudging along as the Sahara sun was beating us down. We had nothing to eat, and we heard that at least two people died in the dunes.”

Giuseppe Loprete, IOM’s chief of mission in Niger, told the BBC’s Newsday that Algeria had defended its actions as necessary to prevent insecurity and terrorism, adding it did not want anybody to cross the border without knowing who they are.

However, the IOM had found a number of people with refugee papers from Algeria among those forced to make the dangerous walk to the border.

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