Deportations from Algeria to Niger continue on a large scale, with 5181 people deported between 29th of October and 04th of December 2022 according to Alarme Phone Sahara's observations. These deportations have been chaotic and even deadly, with at least one case of death reported by Alarme Phone Sahara's whistleblowers in Assamaka, on the Algerian-Nigerian border.
At the same time, Alarme Phone Sahara observes that thousands of migrants in Niger, including newly arrived deportees, no longer have access to the services of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Nigerien sources even report that IOM has announced to suspend its services in Niger from the end of November 2022 for a period of 1 to 3 months. This situation risks causing a humanitarian crisis for the migrant population in Niger for lack of other alternatives.
Arrival of deported persons at Assamaka, 3rd of November 2022
Deportation convoys from Algeria to Niger between the end of October and the end of November 2022
Between 29th of October 2022 and 4th of December 2022, at least 5181 people from various countries were deported from Algeria to Niger. The number of people deported since the beginning of 2022 then rises to at least 24250.
29th of October 2022: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, Algerian-Nigerian border. According to Alarme Phone Sahara’s whistleblowers, 1124 people were on the convoy from Algeria, but only 818 were registered on arrival in Assamaka. It is not clear what happened to the other 306 people or when and under what conditions they left the convoy.
Of the 818 registered in Niger, including 3 women, 4 minor boys, one minor girl and 810 men, there were 746 Nigeriens, all the others, unusually for an official convoy, nationals of other countries: 40 from Chad, 20 from Sudan, 3 from Ivory Coast, 3 from Mali, 2 from Nigeria, 2 from Guinea Conakry, one person from Senegal and one from the Central African Republic
1st of November 2022: 634 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy, among them 13 women, 6 underage girls, 8 underage boys, and 607 men, were dropped off at "Point Zero" to walk to Assamaka.
The largest groups of deportees were again 135 Guineans and 229 Malians. Besides them, there were 44 nationals from Sudan, 39 from Benin, 41 from Burkina Faso, 16 from Cameroon, 21 from Ivory Coast, 29 from Senegal, 19 from Chad, 29 from Gambia, 9 from Sierra Leone, 2 from Niger, 7 from Liberia, 4 from Togo, 5 from Ghana, one from Ethiopia and one from Guinea Bissau.
3rd of November 2022: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 840 people, including 37 women, 30 minor girls, 139 minor boys and 625 men. Among the deportees were 831 Nigerien citizens and 9 nationals of other countries: 6 from Mali, one from Ivory Coast, one from Sudan and one from Burkina Faso.
Arrival of deported persons at Assamaka, 3rd of November 2022
Tragically, according to the Alarme Phone Sahara whistleblowers, one person died in this deportation convoy. Further information on the identity and origin of the deceased, as well as the exact circumstances of the death case, is not yet available.
Alarme Phone strongly condemns the violent and inhumane deportations from Algeria to Niger, which in this case resulted in the death of a human being! We demand that the circumstances of this person's death be clarified and that those responsible be held accountable!
16th of November 2022: 525 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy, including 6 women, 19 minor boys, one minor girl and 499 men, were dropped off at "Point Zero" to walk to Assamaka.
The largest groups of deportees were again 130 Guineans and 181 Malians.
Besides them, there were 16 nationals from Benin, 29 from Burkina Faso, 30 from Cameroon, 27 from Ivory Coast, 26 from Sudan, 14 from Senegal, 4 from Nigeria, 20 from Sierra Leone, 13 from Chad, 4 from Niger, 19 from Gambia and one from Togo. In addition, 6 nationals from Yemen, 2 from Syria and 2 from Egypt were refused access to Niger on the grounds that they are not citizens of an ECOWAS member state.
18th of November 2022: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 879 people, including 67 women, 52 minor girls, 54 minor boys and 706 men.
Among the deportees were 865 Nigerien citizens and 14 nationals of other countries: 9 persons from Sudan, 2 from Burkina Faso, one person from Senegal, one from Chad and one from Benin.
As several times before, the Alarme Phone Sahara team in Assamaka helped to transport sick and injured deportees to the local health centre:
02nd of December 2022: 656 deportees in an unofficial deportation convoy, among them 11 women, 24 underage boys, 11 underage girls and 610 men, were dropped off at "Point Zero" to walk to Assamaka.
The largest groups of deportees were again 210 Guineans and 312 Malians.
Among them were 6 nationals from Benin, 26 from Burkina Faso, 14 from Cameroon, 16 from Ivory Coast, 11 from Sudan, 15 from Senegal, 6 from Nigeria, 16 from Sierra Leone, 2 from Chad, 11 from Gambia, 2 from Guinea Bissau, 3 from Liberia and 2 from Mauritania. In addition, 4 nationals from Yemen were returned to Algeria on the grounds that they are not citizens of an ECOWAS member state.
04th of December 2022: Arrival of an official deportation convoy with 523 people, including 90 women, 79 minor girls, 43 minor boys and 311 men.
Among the deportees were 502 Nigerien citizens and 21 nationals of other countries: 16 from Nigeria, 2 from Benin, one from Senegal, one from Mali and one from Ghana.
Inaccessibility of IOM services in Niger - creating a humanitarian crisis
Alarme Phone Sahara teams observe that thousands of migrants in Niger remain excluded from IOM services and Nigerien sources even report that IOM has announced that it will suspend its services in Niger, including reception, profiling, accommodation and transport of migrants, for a period of 1 to 3 months from the end of November 2022.
Many migrants in Niger depend on IOM's accommodation and care and there is currently no other actor with comparable means and resources. If all these services are now suspended without adequate replacement, at a time when there are thousands of migrants stranded in Niger empty-handed, a real humanitarian crisis threatens to be the inevitable consequence.
IOM reception centre in Agadez
Particularly in Assamaka, on the Algerian-Nigerian border, where thousands of people deported from Algeria arrive each month, many of whom have until now been accommodated and cared for, at least summarily, in the IOM reception centre, cutting off IOM services for months would have catastrophic consequences for the people concerned.
According to Alarme Phone Sahara's observations, there is already little assistance in terms of transport from Assamaka to Agadez due to the precarious situation for both the indigenous and migrant population.
There is the risk of even more serious consequences in the coming months, according to the coordination of Alarme Phone Sahara in Agadez:
The period from December 2022 to February 2023 is a period of very low temperatures in the desert. Sleeping without shelter exposes the lives of migrants to the cold, hence the need to seek shelter for these people. The number of people will grow as long as trips are not organised for those who want them. The precariousness of the environment will make migrants more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. Left to fend for themselves in insecure locations, there are risks that some of them will attempt the impossible by walking through the desert at the risk of their lives to try to return to Algeria. The greatest threat to these people is their vulnerability, which may lead some of them to steal livestock and beg to survive, as their professional and technical skills are undervalued in the labour market.
IOM in Niger: A story of continued mismanagement
On several occasions in recent months, IOM in Niger has been targeted by protests from migrants who have expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the poor living conditions at IOM camps in Niger and against the poor and unreliable implementation of IOM's so-called "voluntary return" programmes.
For these reasons, on 19th of September 2022, Senegalese migrants began a march on foot from Agadez to Niamey.
On 27th and 28th of August 2022, there were migrant demonstrations around the IOM transit camps in Arlit and Agadez. Among others, a group of Malians addressed Malian civil society and the transitional government of Mali with a video statement asking for help to return home.
Several times, there were protests in the IOM camps in Agadez and Arlit already during the last years.
If thousands of destitute migrants no longer have access to IOM services in Niger, and there are no alternative structures to replace them, IOM places them in situations of acute distress and, in the worst case, danger of death.
The IOM, a link in the chain of the border regime
The IOM has been given the mandate to manage the so-called "voluntary return" programmes to the migrants' countries of origin, including their care in its camps until their return. According to IOM guidelines, people are provided with accommodation and food if they accept the so-called "voluntary return". With this role, the IOM is an important link in the chain of border outsourcing and migration control system set up on African soil under the influence of EU countries.
The latest developments show emphatically that the IOM, despite the considerable budgets it receives, is not ready or able to ensure at least dignified living conditions and reliable and responsible management for the people it has been mandated to care for.
Alarme Phone Sahara warns urgently of the serious consequences for thousands of migrants in Niger, who risk being placed in acute distress if these people remain excluded from IOM services!
Alarme Phone Sahara calls on IOM and its donors:
- No to any kind of suspension of IOM services and exclusion of people in urgent need! No to the creation of distress for thousands of migrants!
- The continuation of reception, accommodation and transport for all migrants who need it must be guaranteed!
- If IOM wants to withdraw from Niger, the services for migrants and the means to maintain them must be put in the hands of local structures, with sufficient preparation time!
- Provide sufficient resources to enable decent living conditions for all migrants and refugees in need of assistance in Niger.
- Accommodation and care must not be dependent on submission to a so-called "voluntary return"!
- Instead of spending millions of Euros to close borders and prevent migration by force, respect the freedom of movement of people and invest in saving lives on the migration routes and creating safe travel routes for everyone!