117 migrants were rescued by Niger authorities after their smugglers abandoned them in the Sahara desert. The migrants were traveling through Niger toward Libya in hopes of eventually reaching Europe.
Last Friday staff of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerien soldiers rescued 92 migrants abandoned by their traffickers. On Tuesday 25 further migrants were saved, the IOM announced on Wednesday.
The majority of the migrants were from Nigeria but some come from other West African countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso and Senegal, IOM Giuseppe Loprete said. He mentioned that at least thirty of them were women and some had babies with them
"This unfortunately a typical story for them. They are brought to the middle of the Sahara and often asked for more money by drivers, and if they don't have it they are left behind, he said. Or smugglers will tell them to stay in place so they can check the terrain, only to leave them stranded," Loprete said.
The migrants might be abandoned for weeks out in the desert while they continue to move northward towards Libya. "When they're lucky, someone passing by or a military patrolling or IOM teams will find them if they're not too far from the normal route," Loprete continued. Others might tragically pass away in the desert due to the lack of food, water and the intense heat.
The IOM said that more than 300,000 migrants passed through Niger in 2016. It's one of the poorest nations in the world and Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou called on leaders of the G-7 nations to help him deal with the migration crisis during a meeting in Taormina, Sicily in May.
InfoMigrants with AP and dpa