Algeria bars Syrians from entering via southern border over security fears
Algeria has barred all Syrians from entering the country via its southern borders with Mali and Niger due to security fears, officials said on Wednesday.
Hassen Kacimi, an interior ministry official in charge of migrants policy, told Reuters that Syrians seeking refuge in Algeria could be members of armed groups and could pose a security risk.
"We have hosted 50,000 Syrians in the past few years for humanitarian reasons," Kacimi said, alluding to refugees from Syria’s civil war, "but we cannot accept members of armed groups fleeing from Syria when it comes to our security."
More than 100 Syrians have been deported from Algeria in recent weeks after entering via the southern borders using fake Sudanese passports, he added.
Most had transited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Niger.
Around 50 Palestinian refugees were also deported from the country in December, according to a local human rights monitor.
Syrians do not need visas to enter Algeria, and the country has maintained diplomatic relations with Syria throughout its brutal eight-year war.
Around 560,000 Syrians have been killed in the country's conflict, with the Syrian refugee crisis one of the largest displacements of people in modern times.
More than half of all Syrians have been displaced by war, including nearly six million who have fled the country.
Agencies contributed to this report.