International NGO decries Algeria for abandoning thousands of migrants in desert
International NGO “Doctors without Borders” denounced on Friday Algeria’s continuing expulsion of thousands of migrants who are abandoned in the desert of northern Niger without access to shelter, healthcare, protection, or basic necessities.
Between 11 January and 3 March 2023, 4,677 migrants arrived into Assamaka – a town in northern Niger’s Agadez region – on foot after being deported from Algeria and stranded in the desert.
The Integrated Health Centre (IHC) in Assamaka supported by “Médecins Sans Frontières” (MSF) is overwhelmed as thousands of migrants are seeking shelter in the facility. “The situation is worrying,” says Schemssa Kimana, MSF project coordinator for Agadez.
According to Kimana, there are people sleeping in every corner of the facility. Some have set up makeshift tents at the entrance or in the courtyard. Others are camping in front of the maternity ward, on the roof, or in the waste area.
Temperatures in Assamaka – an arid town – can reach 48 degrees Celsius, so people seek refuge from the heat wherever they can find it. This has led people to sleep in very unhygienic places, such as waste areas, which can expose them to health risks including contagious diseases and skin infections.
The lack of available shelter forcing people to sleep in these conditions is appalling. This situation is now an emergency – it is untenable for anyone to remain living in these conditions.