Algeria expelled thousands of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children: report

Algeria expelled thousands of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children: report
Rights groups are concerned over Algeria's recent expulsion of thousands of asylum seekers to Niger.
2 min read
09 October, 2020
President Tebboune is facing criticism for the expulsion of asylum seekers [Getty]
Algeria has in recent weeks expelled thousands of migrants and asylum seekers to Niger in a move that has been heavily criticised by Human Rights Watch (HRW), with accusations that authorities are not following due process.

In a new report, it was found that security personnel separated children from their families during mass arrests, stripped asylum seekers of their belongings, and failed to allow them to challenge their removal.

Algeria has expelled over 3,400 migrants of at least 20 nationalities to Niger in the last month alone including 430 children and 240 women.

They were packed into buses and trucks and handed over to the Niger army in what has been referred to as "official repatriation convoys".

Those of mixed nationalities were left in the desert near the border.

"Algeria is entitled to protect its borders, but not to arbitrarily detain and collectively expel migrants, including children and asylum seekers, without a trace of due process," said Lauren Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"Before moving to deport anyone, authorities should verify their immigration or asylum status individually and ensure individual court reviews."

Cities where recent roundups have occurred include Tlemcen, Oran, Algiers, Blida, Boumerdes, Tipaza, Zeralda, Setif, and Annaba.

Police apprehended migrants from streets, in their homes, and at work sites, and aid workers are concerned.

"It’s unbelievable that they can be arresting small children without even knowing where their parents are," said an aid worker based in the country.

Algeria’s interior minister announced a new operation to combat "illegal migration" on October 1, claiming that it respected human rights, yet two days later Algeria expelled 705 adults and children of 18 nationalities to the desert, followed by 957 Nigeriens forcibly returned in a convoy on October 5, and 660 people of 17 nationalities expelled to the desert on October 8, according to aid workers in Niger.

"The police forced their way into our house, grabbed us, didn’t explain why, didn’t ask for documents," said Rokia Tamara, a 23-year-old Ivorian woman.

"I explained that I was recovering from a Caesarian operation, but they took me anyway. The children were sleeping, and they took them too."

Two migrants said they saw authorities destroy other migrants’ documents during the roundups.

"I saw the gendarmes tear up my friend’s legal work documents and throw them in the trash," said a 30-year-old man from Guinea.

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