A Mali national resides at the Temporary Stay Centre for Immigrants (CETI) in Melilla | Credit: EPA
A Mali national resides at the Temporary Stay Centre for Immigrants (CETI) in Melilla | Credit: EPA

Amnesty International has issued a report claiming that the Algerian authorities have forcibly expelled over 2,000 sub-Saharan migrants in recent weeks to neighboring Niger and Mali, including 300 minors.

The report stated that ''Algerian authorities have launched a discriminatory crackdown against foreign nationals, rounding up and forcibly expelling more than 2,000 sub-Saharan African migrants from a range of countries to neighboring Niger and Mali over the past three weeks''. 

It added that those ''expelled include more than 300 minors, among them at least 25 unaccompanied children'' and that the arrests had been made ''on the 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.'' 

''Arbitrary arrests and expulsions'' 

''The new wave of arrests started on September 22 when Algerian police and gendarmes began arbitrarily detaining migrants in the capital, Algiers, and neighboring suburbs,'' the report noted, specifying that hundreds of migrants had been detained in an Algerian Red Cross camp in Zeralda, 30 kilometers from Algiers. Also on September 22, the International Rescue Committee of Niger reported the arrival in Agadez of over 600 migrants from Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Benin. Among them were 100 women and 200 minors. 

On September 28, over 350 migrants were transferred at night to a gendarmerie camp in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. They were later taken to the border town of In Guezzam and from there taken by Algerian security forces to Assamaka, on the Nigerien side of the border. According to the Nigerien office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 357 migrants arrived in Assamaka who were originally from Guinea, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Liberia, Cameroon and Sierra Leone.

In a second wave of arrests on October 2, over 500 migrants were arrested. ''About 100 were forced to cross the border and walked for 6 hours in the desert before arriving in Assamaka,'' Amnesty said. Arrests and expulsions continued for two weeks in Algiers and Blida and on October 13, some 500 migrants were taken to Tamanrasset. The Niger branch of the International Rescue Committee reported to Amnesty International that over 200 migrants arrived on October 15, over 300 on October 18 (including over 90 minors) and 450 on October 22.An additional 500 migrants are expected to arrive in Agadez on October 25. 

No reason provided 

Amnesty International said that the Algerian authorities had not provided any reason for the recent arrests. On October 20, the justice ministry issued a statement saying that Algeria "hasn't closed its doors to foreign migrants", but is working "to protect the borders and secure the country". Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International, noted that ''the chilling scale of arbitrary arrests and summary mass expulsions in recent weeks reveal the Algerian authorities' deeply discriminatory attitude towards migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. They must urgently halt these unlawful arrests and deportations." 

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