Refugees, more than 14,000 migrants, many children and young people, deported from Algeria and Libya to Niger between January and May 2022

ACCRA (Ghana) – There is no peace – and there is no safe haven – for the migrants looking for an escape route, a path to salvation to Europe via North Africa. People who have few chances: trust human traffickers, remain in these concentration camps enslaved and controlled by armed and ruthless guards and hope thatUNHCR can get them out of there, or be sent back to where they came from. And that’s what’s happened to so many of them in recent weeks. Thousands of them.

Médecins Sans Frontières condemns it. According to the Humanitarian Organization (MSF), at least 14,000 migrants, including minors, were deported from Algeria and Libya to Niger between January and May 2022. People who actually remain largely stranded in the Sahel desert. Without a real goal. Without direction. Médecins Sans Frontières condemns and emphasizes the inhuman treatment to which migrants are subjected, saying that deportations affect at least two thousand people every month. No difference and no grace. Children were also expelled, we said, and people with serious injuries, or who have been raped or attacked and have suffered severe trauma. Usually – says a note from the organization – they are arrested in Libya or Algeria and kept in detention centers for days, weeks or months before being loaded on buses or trucks, often in the middle of the night, and left somewhere in the Sahel desert on the border to Algeria and Niger known as “Zero point“.

Found 38 bodies of people who were lost. From here, they have to walk about nine miles to reach the village of Assamaka in the Agadez region of Niger. Some are lost along the way: 38 bodies were found between 2020 and 2021. Others are never found. And nearly 70% of migrants receiving medical assistance from Médecins Sans Frontières said they had experienced violence and degrading treatment from Algerian and Libyan guards. “From their physical and mental relationships, it is clear that they have been through hell,” said Jamal Mrrouch, MSF’s Head of Mission in Niger. For these migrants, humiliated and then chased away, there is no possibility of accessing ordinary medical care given their legal status.

The intervention of the humanitarian system is fundamental. That is why the intervention of the humanitarian organizations that are allowed to provide aid and try to provide relief, at least physically, to so much pain remains fundamental. But such organizations can do nothing about the setbacks and continued violence to which migrants are exposed. And the psychological support one tries to provide, even if it is useful and indispensable, risks becoming discontinuous and certainly not crucial to a state of constant insecurity and fear. Médecins Sans Frontières’ complaint also calls on the EU, but also on humanitarian partners, to take immediate action “to respect human dignity in border control. We can not just continue to ignore this situation and believe that the problem will solve itself, ”reads the MSF memo.

The count of the dead and missing. Meanwhile, the figures from the IOM are not comforting (International Organization of Migration). To date, 1,093 migrants are already dead or missing along the migration routes leading to Europe (3,157 in 2021). In the central Mediterranean alone, that which reaches the Sicilian coast from Tripoli, 677 people have died since the beginning of the year. Then there are the victims of the Atlantic, the route for western Africa, the one that reaches the Canary Islands (297 victims), from which mainly people from Morocco, Western Sahara, Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania travel. Those of the western Mediterranean route (64 victims), from where you try to get to Spain, and where you are often blocked in the infamous enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. And where the violence from the Spanish Civil Guard and security is well known. Finally, 55 people have died or been missing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, that is, the one involving arrivals to Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria. The route, so to speak, from which thousands of people fleeing the war in Syria tried to reach. A route controlled by Turkey thanks to the 2016 agreement with the EU, whose officials have always emphasized its success. Not so the non-governmental organizations, six years after an agreement that should have been “extraordinary and temporary”.

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