This Thursday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) condemned the “abandonment” of thousands of migrants who had been driven out of Algeria and were now residing in Assamaka, a city in the Agadez region of northern Niger.
“Thousands of migrants evicted from Algeria and abandoned in the desert (in the north) of Niger are stuck, without access to housing, medical care, protection and basic necessities,” the Organization said in a news release. The same source calls it “an unprecedented circumstance”.
Less than 15% of the 4,677 migrants who arrived in Assamaka on foot between January 11 and March 3, 2023, according to MSF, were able to receive shelter or other forms of safety.
MSF is “distributing non-food products” and providing “free health consultations” at the Assamaka Integrated Health Center (ICS), which is “overwhelmed” by the demand. “Most of the people who just arrived in Assamaka settled in the CSI property, due to lack of room in the transit center,” said Schemssa Kimana, MSF coordinator in Agadez, quoted in the press release.
Many “seek refuge from the heat” that may “reach 48°C” in Assamaka, MSF continues, even sleeping in “makeshift tents” in front of maternity wards, on roofs, or in trash. These people are exposed to “health hazards like as infectious diseases and skin infections” in “unhygienic” settings, according to MSF.
A situation that “needs an immediate humanitarian response from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), where most of these people are from,” according to Jamal Mrrouch, head of the MSF mission in Niger, is condemned. Within 15 kilometers of Assamaka, MSF projected in June 2022 that over 14,000 people had experienced the same fate since the year’s commencement, and 27,208 in 2021.
In October 2018, a UN human rights official urged Algeria to “immediately suspend deportations of African migrants” to Niger, which, according to the International Organization for Human Rights, had “sharply increased” that year and in 2019. (OIM).
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