UN crit­i­cizes Al­ge­ria for mass de­por­ta­tions of mi­grants

The Miracle - - Middle East -

GENEVA/AL­GIERS: The United Na­tions on Tues­day urged Al­ge­ria to stop round­ing up and ex­pelling sub-Sa­ha­ran mi­grants, high­light­ing an in­flux of im­mi­grants from Mali and Niger that Al­ge­ria says it needs UN help to ad­dress. Hassen Kacimi, a se­nior of­fi­cial at Al­ge­ria’s In­te­rior Min­istry, told Reuters on Satur­day that Al­ge­ria had called for help from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, while the United Na- tions had done lit­tle to save the mi­grants. UN spokes­woman Rav­ina Sham­dasani told a reg­u­lar UN briefing in Geneva that de­por­ta­tions and ex­pul­sions have in­creased markedly since the sec­ond half of 2017, and a UN hu­man rights team went to Niger to in­ves­ti­gate this month. “What they heard was that Al­ge­rian au­thor­i­ties fre­quently carry out mass round-ups of sub-Sa­ha­ran African mi­grants in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try,” Sham­dasani said. Of 25 mi­grants in­ter­viewed by the UN team, only one had had her pass­port checked be­fore be­ing ex­pelled. Most had been told to put thumbprints on Ara­bic doc­u­ments they could not read. Most were not told why they were be­ing de­tained and were not al­lowed to pick up their be­long­ings, pass­ports or money be­fore be­ing ex­pelled. Some were taken straight to Niger, oth­ers were held in mil­i­tary bases, in in­hu­man and de­grad­ing con­di­tions, be­fore be­ing taken south.“(Some) are crammed into big trucks to be trans­ferred to the Nige­rien bor­der where they are aban­doned and left to walk hours in the desert heat to cross the bor­der into Niger,” she said. Al­ge­ria says it faces a huge in­flux of mi­grants.

SURGE OF MI­GRA­TION

“A surge of mi­gra­tion is in­vad­ing the south of Al­ge­ria,” Kacimi said. “Be­fore reach­ing Al­ge­ria, the mi­grants are aban­doned in the desert, and it is Al­ge­ria that res­cues them by of­fer­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.” “Al­ge­ria is not re­spon­si­ble for the pop­u­la­tion of other states,” Kacimi said. “So who­ever wants to cry over the out­go­ing mi­grants just (has) to put their hand in their pocket.” Al­ge­ria, which has a 2,500 km (1,550 mile) bor­der with Mali and Niger, spent $20 mil­lion in the past three years to han­dle an in­flux of il­le­gal mi­grants from the Sa­hel re­gion flee­ing war, in­se­cu­rity or poverty.“Where is the UNHCR, where is the IOM, and where are the African states?” Kacimi said. The UN mi­gra­tion agency IOM has res­cued about 3,000 mi­grants in the area in the past four months, in­clud­ing some try­ing to get into Al­ge­ria and some be­ing ex­pelled, IOM spokesman Joel Mill­man said. Many said it was not un­usual for them to be dropped as much as 30 km (19 miles) from the bor­der, in 45 de­gree Cel­sius (113F) heat, of­ten with­out wa­ter and car­ry­ing chil­dren. “Many of them re­port see­ing mi­grants who have lost their lives, of­ten un­recorded or un­rec­og­nized in the sand dunes,” Mill­man said.

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