UN blasts Algeria for deporting African migrants

UN blasts Algeria for deporting African migrants
The United Nations has raised concern about deportations of migrants from Algeria following a reported increase in expulsions since mid-2017.
2 min read
Algeria has seen an influx of refugees since Europe closed its doors [Getty]
The United Nations on Tuesday urged Algeria to stop expelling African migrants following an influx of people from the sub-Saharan countries of Mali and Niger.

Hassen Kacimi, an official at the Interior Ministry, said Algeria called for help from the international community but the UN has failed to help the migrants. 

UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said that deportations have picked up since mid-2017, and a UN human rights team went to Niger to investigate earlier this month. 

"What they heard was that Algerian authorities frequently carry out mass round-ups of sub-Saharan African migrants in various parts of the country," Shamdasani said.

Only one of the 25 migrants interviewed by the UN said their passports were inspected before being expelled. 

Most were not told why they were detained nor allowed to collect their belongings before being expelled. 

Some of the migrants were taken straight to Niger and others were held in military bases, held in custody in degrading conditions. 

"[Some] are crammed into big trucks to be transferred to the Nigerien border where they are abandoned and left to walk hours in the desert heat to cross the border into Niger," she said.

Algeria says a huge influx of migrants are pouring in.

"A surge of migration is invading the south of Algeria," Kacimi said. "Before reaching Algeria, the migrants are abandoned in the desert, and it is Algeria that rescues them by offering humanitarian aid".

"Algeria is not responsible for the population of other states," Kacimi said. "So whoever wants to cry over the outgoing migrants just [has] to put their hand in their pocket".

Algeria has spent $20 million in the past three years to address the influx of imigrants arriving from the Sahel region.

"Where is the UNHCR, where is the IOM, and where are the African states?" Kacimi said.

The UN migration agency IOM has rescued about 3,000 migrants in southern Algeria in the past several months, some arriving into the country and others being expelled. 

Many are dropped nearly 20 miles from the border in sweltering heat without water.  

"Many of them report seeing migrants who have lost their lives, often unrecorded or unrecognized in the sand dunes," Millman said.

In October last year, Amnesty accused Algeria of "ethnically profiling" people from sub-Saharan Africa, saying it had "illegally expelled" more than 2,000 people to Niger and Mali.

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