Niger Expresses ‘Concern’ over Algeria’s ill-treatment of Sub-Saharan Migrants

Niamey has had enough with Algeria’s ill treatment of Nigerien nationals, after 950 of them were summarily deported last week to Niger’s borders.

As Algeria turns a deaf ear to the calls by international rights NGOs to halt the inhumane treatment of Sub-Saharan migrants, Niger’s Foreign Minisiter Ibrahim Yacoubou officially expressed his country’s concern over the surge in the numbers who were forcibly expelled by Algeria and abandoned on the borders in harsh conditions.

“Over 20,000 Nigeriens were kicked out of Algeria in four years…this is a major concern for us,” said Yacoubou, voicing hope to see Algeria cooperate with Niger on the migration issue.

Niger’s protests at the inhumane treatment suffered by its nationals in Algeria is a reaction to the black man-hunt launched by Algerian authorities, which are surfing on a wave of anti-migrant populism espoused by senior political figures in the country.

Algeria is on the verge of moral bankruptcy as it continues to vent the sluggish economic growth on poor Sub-Saharans, most of whom have fled poverty and conflict in their home countries to look for work in Algeria or seek transit to Europe via neighboring Libya

Last week, Amnesty International denounced the racial and discriminatory crackdown launched by Algerian authorities against sub-Saharan migrants, rounding up and forcibly expelling more than 2,000 of them to Niger and Mali over the past three weeks.

Amnesty International deplored that Algerian authorities proceeded to arbitrary arrests on a basis of racial profiling, as they did not seek to ascertain whether the migrants had the right to stay in the country, either by checking their passports or other documents. Some of those arrested and deported are undocumented migrants, while others have valid visas.

Algerian authorities went too far in their discrimination against Sub-Saharans who were banned from using buses and taxis, in a move that prompts the worst fears of human rights activists.

Last July, Ahmed Ouyahya, who is now the current Prime Minister, shamefully endorsed the crackdown on migrants, uttering heinous remarks when he described Sub-Saharans in Algeria as a “source of crime, drugs and other calamities.”

Surfing on a tide of shauvinism, Ouyahya refused to consider migration from a human rights perspective, saying in a hostile and defying tone that the matter is part of the state’s “sovereignty” and that “These people (migrants) are on Algerian territories illegally.”

He went on in his racist comments, saying that the “State should protect Algerians from anarchy by imposing strict rules on these people (migrants)”.

In the same vein, Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel accused Sub-Saharan migrants of “involvement in crime and drug trafficking.”

Nurturing fear and hate towards migrants seems to be a state policy in Algeria in an attempt to ignite nationalist fervor at times of financial crisis.

Strikingly, last year, presidential advisor and surprisingly Head of Algeria’s human rights commission Farouk Ksentini who is supposed to defend human rights as they are universally recognized, made scandalous statements, bluntly accusing sub-Saharans of spreading HIV and diseases in Algeria.

It is no wonder then that a large segment of Algerian society is following suit, spreading hate on social media. Recently, a Twitter hashtag “#cleaning Africans off Algerian cities” was launched by local anti-migrant activists.

Besides Amnesty International, Algeria is rebuked in several international human rights reports for its ill-treatment of Sub-Saharan migrants as it continues its mass expulsions of these migrants and asylum seekers whose protection is an obligation for Algeria under the 1951 Geneva Convention.

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