Few weeks after Amnesty International rebuked Algeria for failing short to uphold its obligation in protecting sub-Saharan refugees and asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) lambasted Algiers for the degrading treatment it reserves to Sub-Saharans.
Under the title,” New Wave of Deportations,” HRW said on its website that Algerian authorities have rounded up hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans since January 2018, including women and children, expelling many of them to Niger.
This new deportation wave comes after a series of arbitrary expulsion operations carried out in October 2017 and December 2016, HRW said, noting that most affected migrants if not all, were taken to a facility in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital, where they spent one to three days in crowded halls with no mattresses and little to eat.
Citing testimonies from victims, HRW drew the bleak situation suffered by migrants in Algeria. “Algeria is rounding up and deporting migrants in a degrading way and depriving them of the right to have their cases reviewed on an individual basis,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
The international rights watchdog cited figures issued by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which operates an assistance program for migrants in Agadez, Niger, estimating the total number of expelled migrants at 3,000 since the beginning of 2018, with 500 since February 10, mostly from Niger, and small numbers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, and Guinea.
Victims told HRW of the abhorrent conditions in which they were held in Tamanrasset before being abandoned in the desert. “They described the conditions in the camp in Tamanrasset as inhumane, dirty, and overcrowded, with detainees going an entire day without food,” HRW said, citing cases of violence by Algerian security forces.
The organization deplored that Algerian authorities insist on denying the right of the migrants to challenge their expulsion or seek protection as asylum seekers in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention to which Algeria is a party.