Official and non-official mass deportation convoys from Algeria to the border of Niger are continuing in March 2021 to an unprecedented extent. After at least 1054 people had already been deported on 5th and 11th of March, Another 2098 people arrived at the border post at Assamaka on 14th and 16th of March after being deported from Algeria according to the whistleblowers of Alarme Phone Sahara.
Sources from Gao in Mali also report the arrival of 125 deported migrants coming from the Algerian-Malian and Niger-Malian border.
Meanwhile, the "Association Agir Ensemble pour lutter Contre l'Immigration Clandestine (AAECC)" (Association Acting Together to Fight Clandestine Migration) from Algeria is reporting that one out of the 82 buses on the deportation convoy that left Algiers on 12th of March had an accident on the road, killing 60 of the people who were to be deported. This shocking news has so far not been confirmed for sure.
Alarme Phone Sahara demands truth and clarification from the Algerian state on what actually happened on the deportation convoy that left Algiers on 12th of March and calls on anyone who can witness what happened to share their information!
Algerian security forces arresting a man for deportation Algerian security forces deporting migrant women
(photo from one of the previous deportation operations) (photo from end 2019/early 2020) ©Louiza Ammi/Liberté
To understand the dimensions of the last deportations from Algeria to Niger, the huge and perviously unknown numbers of people deported all at once on one deportation convoy, with 82 (!) buses that left Algiers on 12th of March has to be considered:
Arrival of unofficial deportation convoy on 14th of March 2021
According to Alarme Phone Sahara's whistleblowers, the huge number of 910 people, among them at least two women and one minor girl, who had been deported in an unofficial convoy arrived in Assamaka at the Algerian-Nigerian border on 14th of March 2021 after the Algerian security forces had dropped them in the border zone.
As in other unofficial convoys, the victims of these extra-legal deportations are nationals from many different countries in sub-Saharan Africa: According to Alarme Phone Sahara whistleblowers, the biggest groups 331 people from Guinea Conakry and 245 from Mali. Also 51 persons from Ivory Coast, 43 from Burkina Faso, 30 from Nigeria, 60 from Sierra Leone, 5 from Niger, 21 from Sudan, 30 from Cameroon, 15 from the Gambia, 36 from Senegal, 21 from Benin, 15 from Liberia, 3 from Ghana, 3 from Guinea Bissau and one person from Togo.
Usually, people deported in unofficial convoys are left in the border area between Algeria and Niger in the middle of the desert and forced to walk 15 to 20 kilometers to the border post of Assamaka. With this practice, the Algerian security forces always put the lives of the deported people in danger, risking them getting lost in the desert. Already in 2018, the state of Niger had asked Algeria to put an end to these deportations of non-Nigerian nationals, but to no avail, so that deportations in unofficial convoys continue now on a larger scale than ever before.
Most of those deported from Algeria to Niger end up in IOM camps in Agadez or in unofficial "migrant ghettos", where many remain stranded if there is neither the possibility of returning to their regions or countries of origin, nor the possibility of continuing their journey of migration.
Arrival of a huge official deportation convoy on 16th of March 2021 - children deported without being counted officially
On 11th of March 2021, the huge number of at least 1188 people, both women, men and minor girls and boys, arrived in Assamaka with an official deportation convoy.
According to official figures, 978 of them were citizens of Niger, while 7 persons (including 4 women and 3 minor girls and boys) are from Togo 4 persons are from Benin, two from Ivory Coast, three from Guinea Conakry, one from Nigeria, one from Mali, one from Cameroon and one from Sierra Leone.
Alarme Phone Sahara whistleblowers reported that in addition to these official figures, at least 190 small children arrived with the deportation convoy who were not even counted in the official figures. The large number of small children who get deported and are not even counted officially is a severe violation of saftey and protection for children, which raises fears that in the worst case, children may even disappear in the course of such deportation convoys. According to Human Rights Watch, migrant children in Algeria had already been separated from their families and deported alone in previous deportation operations in October 2020.
Deportations also to the Algeria-Mali border
According to reports from Mali, 125 migrants, all men, who were coming from the Mali-Algeria and Mali-Niger borders were received by the Regional Directorate of Civil Protection in Gao, northern part of Mali, on its premises between Thursday 18th and Saturday 20th of March 2021. Obviously, those coming to Gao from the Mali-Algeria border had been deported there by Algerian security forces, as it had already happened in previous years. And it is also very likely that most of the people coming from the Mali-Niger border were part of those groups who had been deported on the deportation convoys from Algeria to the border of Niger before.
The Algerian state and its policy of persecution of migrants
The practice of raids and deportations from Algeria, which has been intensified in recent years, is accompanied by racist propaganda against seasonal workers from Niger and against people who depend on begging, and more generally against all migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan African countries.
The waves of raids, arrests and deportations in Algeria since September 2020 are a direct result of the "migration reform" and the creation of an inter-ministerial commission to fight "irregular migration", announced by Algerian Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud at a plenary session of parliament on 30th of September 2020.
The "complementary measures" announced by the minister include joint police and gendarmerie roadblocks on border roads, the demolition of "anarchic dwellings" housing migrants, such as sheds or construction sites, the dismantling of migrant reception networks and the automatic confiscation of means of transport.
On the one hand, this kind of declaration of war against migrants in Algeria follows the Algerian authorities' interest in reducing the number of migrants and satisfying racism within the indigenous society. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for them to position themselves as guardians for the border regime of the European Union states. Although the Algerian state has so far refused to sign an official migration agreement with EU countries, its ruthless deportation policy will serve as an asset in the upcoming negotiations with European states on credits and economic cooperation in the face of the deep economic crisis.
In addition, cooperation already exists in the form of the delivery of large quantities of military and security goods for the Algerian army, police and gendarmerie, such as surveillance technology or Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
In view of the dramatic escalation of deportation practice in Algeria:
- Alarme Phone Sahara demands truth and clarification from the Algerian state on what actually happened on the deportation convoy that left Algiers on 12th of March, especially if it is true that any people have been killed in a bus accident, and calls on anyone who can witness what happened to share their information!
- Alarme Phone Sahara demands an immediate end to the practice of deporting children who are not even officially counted, putting the safety of children at stake and risking disappearances of children!
- Alarme Phone Sahara demands to stop immediately separating children from their parents and to stop arresting and deporting children!
- Alarme Phone Sahara calls for an immediate end to deportations and pushbacks of refugees and migrants from Algeria to Niger - no war on refugees and migrants!
- Alarme Phone Sahara calls for an end to acts of theft and violence by Algerian security forces against migrants and refugees!
- Alarme Phone Sahara demands the cancellation of the deportation agreement between Algeria and Niger!
- Alarme Phone Sahara calls for an end to the delivery of military and security goods to the Algerian state!
- Alarme Phone Sahara calls for an end to the externalisation of European borders on African soil!
- Alarme Phone Sahara calls on the civil societies of the countries involved and concerned to resist deportations and pushbacks and to defend the lives, rights and freedom of movement of migrants and refugees!
- Alarme Phone Sahara also calls on the authorities and parliaments of all countries concerned, among others Niger, Mali and Guinea, to support their citizens and not to accept any more mass deportations from Algeria to the borders of Niger and Mali!