Not fewer than 28,000 people, mostly Nigerien illegal migrants, have been repatriated from Algeria to Niger since 2014, the UN said, with Niamey expressing concern over excessive repatriation.
“28,000 people (have been) repatriated from Algeria since the beginning of the operation in 2014,” according to the bulletin of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Niamey.
Nearly 22,000 of the repressed migrants come from the Niger region of Zinder (centre-south) and “more than 3,000” others are nationals of Agadez (northern desert), close to Algeria, says the UN agency.
The first operations began with the repatriation of 3,000 Nigeriens, 76% of them children. The Nigerien government then announced that it had undertaken these operations “in consultation with the Algerian authorities”, with a view to repatriating its nationals “living in extreme vulnerability and without jobs in Algeria”.
In Algeria, these migrants “unfortunately live on begging,” said Nigerien Prime Minister Brigi Rafini.
But in October 2017, the Nigerien government expressed its “concern” after massive repatriations of its nationals. He said he had “pleaded” for a category of migrants, “economic actors” and those who left to “work” to be “spared” by these deportations.
Amnesty International, for its part, denounced “arbitrary arrests” and “illegal” mass expulsions of West Africans and assured that some had valid visas.
Expellees also include Guineans, Burkinabe, Beninese, Malians, Ivorians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Liberians, Cameroonians and Sierra Leoneans, according to Amnesty.