Ex­pul­sions of mi­grants into desert are halted

Yorkshire Post - - UK & ABROAD -

AL­GE­RIA’S DEADLY ex­pul­sions of mi­grants into the Sa­hara Desert have all but halted af­ter wide­spread con­dem­na­tion and the sack­ing of two top se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

The ex­pul­sions to the desert borders that Al­ge­ria shares with Niger and Mali have al­most ground to a halt since The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported less than three weeks ago that more than 13,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, had been dropped off in the stark, dan­ger­ous re­gion in tem­per­a­tures of up to 50C since May 2017, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials with the UN’s In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion.

Be­fore the re­port was pub­lished on June 26, the North African na­tion was ex­pelling mi­grants by the hun­dreds al­most every week into the un­for­giv­ing desert, of­ten to their deaths.

Al­ge­ria has re­fused re­peated re­quests for com­ment on the ex­pul­sions. The Euro­pean Union also de­clined to com­ment.

The ex­pul­sions came as Europe pres­sured North African gov­ern­ments to head off the mi­grants be­fore they can cross the Mediter­ranean Sea.

An aid worker with con­tacts in Al­ge­ria said the mass de­ten­tions con­tinue, but now mi­grants, in­clud­ing dozens of preg­nant women, are ware­housed in over­crowded jails.

Al­ge­ria also con­tin­ues to de­port mi­grants from neigh­bour­ing Niger, with which it has had an ex­pul­sion agree­ment since 2015.

But while mi­grants from other sub-Sa­ha­ran coun­tries were dropped in the desert, those from Niger have long been driven to the bor­der by con­voys.

Al­ge­ria’s se­cu­rity forces have fallen into dis­ar­ray since the re­port was pub­lished, with the head of the gen­darmerie and the chief of na­tional se­cu­rity both be­ing forced from their jobs. Both were linked to the migrant ex­pul­sions in the desert.

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