African Civil Society Wants AU to Put End to Ordeal of Sub-Saharans in Algeria

Civil society associations in Guinea, Gabon and Niger have urged the African Union to put the issue of the human rights violations by Algerian authorities against Sub-Saharan migrants on the agenda as Algiers continues arbitrary expulsions of would-be migrants who are often abandoned in the desert on the borders with Niger.

At a time the African union puts the issue of migration on top of its concerns, Algeria, which often portrays itself as an actor in the continent has flouted the basic principle of solidarity between African states.

According to human rights watchdogs, tens of thousands of Sub-Saharan migrants were summarily deported to the borders with Niger where they were abandoned in harsh conditions.

The anti-migrant populism in Algeria is espoused at the highest state level by ministers who have been blaming their country’s economic hardship on poor sub-Saharan migrants.

This anti-migrant practices and rhetoric were behind the recall of the Guinean Ambassador to Algiers earlier this week. The decision by Guinean President, Alpha Conde, who is also AU chairman, drew attention to the double speak of Algeria, which aspires to have a voice in Africa while mistreating Africans on its soil.

The dispute between the two countries took shape after Algeria insisted on deporting sub-Saharans it deems as Guineans, while Guinea refuses such a procedure. The move by Algeria to expulse the presumed Guineans to Niger has further worsened relations between the two countries.

“A horrible scenario is happening in Algeria recalling darkest episodes of Africa’s history. It is clear that our Sub-Saharan brothers are targeted by Algeria, a country where a black manhunt is currently taking place. These Poor Africans who endure inhuman expulsions towards Tamanrassert are then kicked out of the country’s borders in a criminal way,” deplores kankan, Conakry’s official radio.

Guinea is not the only country that has denounced Algeria’s ill-treatment of Sub-Saharans. Niger’s civil society including rights groups and the Gabonese civil society have joined their voices to condemn the Algerian regime’s racism against Sub-Saharans while urging the African Union to take action to end the ordeal of Sub-Saharans in Algeria.

Last October, Algerian authorities took segregationist move to ban migrants from using taxis and buses in a wave of anti-migrant drive launched by the Algerian authorities in a blatant disregard for human dignity and in total violation of basic human rights.

The current Algerian PM, Ahmed Ouyahya, surfed on the tide of anti-migrant populism uttering heinous remarks when he described Sub-Saharan migrants as a “source of crime, drugs and other calamities.”

Persisting on the same xenophobic remarks, Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel accused Sub-Saharan migrants of “involvement in crime and drug trafficking.”

That was not the first time Algerian politicians make racist remarks against migrants in an attempt to ignite nationalist fervor at times of financial crisis. Last year, presidential advisor and surprisingly Head of Algeria’s human rights commission Farouk Ksentini made scandalous statements, bluntly accusing sub-Saharans of spreading HIV and diseases in Algeria.

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 who are abandoned in harsh conditions on the border with Niger.

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