Humanitarian Crisis Feared In Niger After Algeria Expels 7,000 Migrants
Assamaka, May 1 (TNA) Local authorities and NGOs are raising concerns over a potential humanitarian crisis and an increase in cross-border criminal activity in the town of Assamaka, Niger, following the expulsion of over 7,000 sub-Saharan migrants from Algeria over the past four months.
The Nigerien Minister of Interior, Hamadou Amadou Souley, visited the border village in the Agadez region this week to assess the humanitarian situation after Algerian authorities expelled more than 7,000 sub-Saharan migrants in several groups over the past four months.
The concentration of migrants in the area has led to a sharp rise in cross-border crime, with 7,172 Central African citizens expelled this year due to limited access to basic social services in the area.
The minister has called on members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to expedite the identification process for their citizens who choose to participate in the voluntary return program organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The IOM program, according to the Nigerien official, is one of the causes of the influx of migrants arriving in Agadez solely to benefit from socio-economic reintegration. Meanwhile, Alkassoum Ibrahim, a member of the Canadian NGO International Emergency Aid Committee (CIUAD), operating in Assamaka in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has explained by phone that the current blockade of migrants in Assamaka is due to "a lack of resources the IOM is currently facing".
Another organization, COOPI, has also constructed three new shelters to house the migrants. However, NGOs and local authorities continue to express concern over the potential for a humanitarian crisis and an increase in cross-border crime.
Since January this year, several groups of migrants expelled by Algeria have continuously arrived in the village. The most recent group of 710 migrants, including women and children, were abandoned by the Algerian police in the 'zero point' area in the middle of the desert. They walked 15 kilometers to reach Assamaka around 3 am.
The situation has created tension between the migrants and the local population, with authorities warning of a security threat to the town's population of less than 3,000 and the entire Agadez region. To address the issue, local authorities in Assamaka have established a military patrol at night starting at 9 pm to ensure the security of the town.