Expulsions of migrants into desert are halted
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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