DAKAR Dec 9 Algerian authorities have deported
hundreds of West African migrants to Niger this week, trucking
them thousands of miles across the desert in one of the biggest
roundups seen this year, according to officials and human rights
Algeria has often sent migrants back to Niger since 2014 as
the number of people taking the dangerous route to Europe from
West Africa has swelled. But the latest group is different
because it involves people from across the region, not just
Niger, officials said, suggesting a more determined effort to
Over the last two days, at least 1,000 migrants came in a
convoy of about 50 trucks to Agadez in central Niger, a desert
town where migrants from all over West Africa pay smugglers to
take them on the treacherous journey north through the Sahara,
according to officials in Agadez, the International Organization
for Migration (IOM) and Human Rights Watch.
"They are about 1,000, 271 from Niger, the rest from West
African countries, mainly Mali and Guinea Conakry," said
Giuseppe Loprete, the head of IOM's mission in Niger.
Algerian and Nigerien authorities were not immediately
available for comment.
The IOM, which has a holding center in Agadez where migrants
from across the region are housed and fed, is not directly
involved in the latest deportation, as it was not contacted by
Algerian or Nigerien authorities to help, Loprete said.
The migrants are instead being housed on the outskirts of
town, said Isatou Abdou, who works for the U.N.'s human rights
arm in Agadez. She could not immediately confirm the numbers.
According to a Human Rights Watch report released on Friday,
over 1,400 migrants have been forcibly deported from Algeria
this month. Many were rounded up in the capital Algiers and
bused to Agadez, over 1,600 miles (2,600 km) south.
"A mass and summary deportation of migrants, including men
and women who may have fled persecution or have worked for years
in Algeria, would violate their rights," said Sarah Leah
Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights
(Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)