Dozens of migrants rescued in Nigerien desert: UN

AP , Friday 15 Jul 2022

A total of 44 West African migrants seeking to reach Libya have been rescued in the desert in northern Niger, the United Nations said Thursday.

migrants niger
File Photo: A group of migrants, mainly from Niger and Nigeria, rest next to pickup vehicles on January 22, 2019, in northern Niger. AFP


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 44 migrants were rescued two days after their vehicle broke down and their driver abandoned them.

The group, comprising 29 men, 12 women and three young girls were found some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the town of Dirkou in northeastern Niger, the IOM said.

They were taken to a nearby transit centre for first aid, the IOM added.

The July 6 rescue came just days after 10 migrants were found dead in the region, which led Niamey to launch an investigation into the cause of their death.

Many West African migrants try to reach Libya in the hope of making it across the Mediterranean to a better life in Europe.

Dirkou is a crossroads for the smuggling of migrants, weapons and drugs northwards into Libya and then on to Europe.

It is also home to gold mining sites that attract Nigeriens and others from neighbouring countries.

They typically flock to the Nigerien city of Agadez, where smugglers offer to take them onwards to the Libyan border.

The authorities in Agadez say it is common for vehicles transporting migrants to break down in the desert, or even for smugglers to lose their way or abandon passengers for fear of being caught.

Abandoned, some migrants die of dehydration, they say.

Niamey adopted a law in 2015 to make migrant smuggling a crime, with sentences of up to 30 years in prison.

But a Nigerien security source said the measure had only pushed smugglers to use "new, more dangerous routes".

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