With unprecedented frequency, people of various origins are being deported from Algeria to Niger. In the 3 months from the beginning of 2023 to the 1st of April, at least 11336 people were concerned according to the observations of the Alarme Phone Sahara team. Among them, 4845 people were deported in "official" convoys and 6491 deported in "unofficial" convoys. The latter were deposited, as usual, in the desert in the border area at "point zero" and forced to walk the 15 kilometres to the village of Assamaka.
Deported persons after arriving in Assamaka, 26th of March 2023
©Alarme Phone Sahara
All this in the context of a growing humanitarian crisis. Indeed, according to the observations of the Alarme Phone Sahara team, more than 4,000 people are still stranded in Assamaka, without shelter and without food and water supplies.
Faced with this humanitarian crisis, Alarme Phone Sahara has issued an alert. Similarly, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has drawn attention to the alarming situation.
Alarme Phone Sahara sincerely welcomes the fact that, in the meantime, various institutions on the side of the Nigerien state have recognised the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Assamaka and have clearly indicated their readiness to take practical measures.
Among others, the governor of the Agadez region explicitly speaks of a "humanitarian and health crisis" and on 31 March invited the heads of institutional and civil society structures active in the field of migration to a meeting where a working group was set up to plan practical action in Assamaka, including issues such as transport, food and water supply, and the provision of tents. These plans are based, among other things, on the results of a joint mission that the DREC (Direction Régionale de l'Etat Civil, des Migrations et des Réfugiés), the Regional Council, UNHCR, UNICEF and CIAUD (Comité International pour l'Aide d'Urgence et le Développement) conducted in Assamaka to assess the humanitarian situation for an urgent response.
In addition, Niger's Minister of the Interior visited the IOM "transit centre" in Agadez.
Meanwhile, European humanitarian and civil protection institutions have also announced funding for Assamaka.
Somehow, according to Alarme Phone Sahara's observations, there has been no substantial improvement in the situation of deportees stranded in Assamaka so far. In particular, deportees have protested against the behaviour of the IOM, which continues to take in only those who have so far been accommodated in its camp, where space is limited.
Migrants protesting in Assamaka ©TV 5 Monde
It is therefore all the more important to follow closely in the coming days and weeks whether the evacuation and humanitarian aid are actually implemented, under what conditions, what happens to the announced EU funds and who is in charge of them.
An important question is also how the people concerned will actually be treated and whether, for example, their freedom of movement and decision about what they want to do will be respected.
©Alarme Phone Sahara
Figures of deportees arriving in Assamaka from 23 February to 1 April 2023:
23 February 2023: 993 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrived on foot between 10 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., among them 18 women, 14 minor girls, 4 minor boys, and 957 men.
The largest groups of deportees were 346 Guineans and 218 Malians and 126 Ivorians.
Apart from them there were 24 nationals from Sudan, 24 from Benin, 18 from Burkina Faso, 13 from Cameroon, 51 from Senegal, 6 from Nigeria, 3 from Chad, 69 from Gambia, 36 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Ghana, 4 from Togo, 2 from Guinea Bissau, 8 from Liberia, 6 from Bangladesh and one Congolese person.
3 March 2023: 1180 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrived on foot, among them 4 women, one minor girl, 6 minor boys, and 1169 men.
The largest groups of deportees were 318 Guineans and 308 Malians and 116 Gambians.
Apart from them there were 89 nationals from Ivory Coast, 49 from Sudan, 19 from Benin, 67 from Burkina Faso, 35 from Cameroon, 79 from Senegal, 15 from Nigeria, 15 from Chad, 37 from Sierra Leone, 2 from Ghana, 2 from Togo, 3 from Guinea Bissau, 12 from Liberia, 12 from Bangladesh, one Somali man and one from Niger.
Many of them who had taken the road to Arlit were approached by Alarme Phone Sahara's whistleblowers to recover them safely.
5 March 2023: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 679 people, including 19 women, 10 minor girls, 11 minor boys and 639 men. Among the deportees were 617 Nigerien citizens and 62 nationals of other countries: 48 from Guinea Conakry, 12 from Mali, one person from Nigeria and one from Chad.
15 March 2023: 832 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrive on foot, among them 4 women, one minor girl, one minor boy and 826 men.
The largest groups of deportees were 316 Guineans and 309 Malians.
Apart from them there were 51 nationals from Ivory Coast, 31 from Gambia, 8 from Sudan, 7 from Benin, 6 from Burkina Faso, 22 from Cameroon, 35 from Senegal, 2 from Nigeria, 29 from Sierra Leone, 2 from Togo, 8 from Guinea Bissau, 4 from Liberia and one Congolese person. In addition, one man from Bangladesh was turned back directly to Algeria.
15 March 2023: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 705 people, including 80 women, 59 minor girls, 22 minor boys and 544 men. Among the deportees were 701 Nigerien citizens, plus 4 Yemeni nationals who were turned back at the border.
24 March 2023: 606 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrived on foot, among them 3 women, 3 minor girls, 6 minor boys and 594 men. The late arrival in the evening was considered particularly unusual by the Alarme Phone Sahara team.
The largest groups of deportees were 263 Guineans and 152 Malians.
Apart from them there were 43 nationals from Ivory Coast, 55 from Gambia, 9 from Benin, 3 from Burkina Faso, 21 from Cameroon, 18 from Senegal, 4 from Nigeria, 10 from Sierra Leone, 3 from Guinea Bissau, 12 from Liberia, one person from Niger, one person from Chad and one person from Togo and also 11 people from Yemen.
26 March 2023: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 671 people, including 35 women, 24 minor girls, 26 minor boys and 586 men. Among the deportees were 663 Nigerien citizens and 8 nationals of other countries: 3 from Guinea Conakry, 2 from Mali, one person from Benin, one from Togo and one from Ivory Coast.
30 March 2023: 297 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrived on foot.
The largest group of deportees were 158 Guineans.
Apart from them there were 2 nationals from the Ivory Coast, 43 from Mali, 3 from Guinea Bissau and one person from Nigeria.
31 March 2023: 386 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy arrived on foot, among them 3 women, two minor girls, 3 minor boys and 378 men.
The largest group of deportees were 181 Guineans.
Apart from them there were 59 nationals from the Ivory Coast, 50 from the Gambia, 42 from Mali, 3 from Cameroon, 22 from Senegal, 19 from Sierra Leone, one person from Liberia, one person from Benin and also one person from Syria.
1 April 2023: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 93 Niger nationals, including 6 women, 9 underage girls, 7 underage boys and 71 men.
In the face of the humanitarian crisis in Assamaka, Alarme Phone Sahara continues to demand:
- Immediate evacuation of the thousands of migrants blocked in Assamaka in unbearable conditions and their reintegration in dignified and humane living conditions!
- Immediate reopening of sufficient reception, accommodation, care and transport capacities for all migrants and refugees who need them!
- Immediate and urgent release of sufficient resources for local structures or other humanitarian aid providers that are ready and able to take in hand concrete assistance initiatives for migrants deported and blocked in Niger!
- Deportations from Algeria to Niger must be stopped immediately!
- The deportation agreement between Algeria and Niger must be cancelled.