April 11, 2023
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Press Release: Doctors of the World warns of the growing humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants in the Assamaka desert, in Agadez, Niger. The organization also calls on the European Union to review its migration policies.
Doctors of the World (DotW), present in the Agadez region since 2014, warns about the growing humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants expelled from Algeria and abandoned in extreme conditions in the city of Assamaka, in the middle of the desert (region of Agadez – migratory crossroads, in the north of Niger).
Indeed, between January and March 2023, according to the IOM, 7,700 exiled people, of sub-Saharan origin (mainly from Niger, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone), were expelled from Algeria and moved to the border with Niger. 5,000 people arrived on foot in Assamaka and are currently on their own, in inhumane living conditions.
Faced with the intensification of pushbacks and the sharp increase in the number of migrants returning from North Africa to Agadez in recent months, local and international humanitarian organizations lack the resources and capacity to provide vital assistance to these vulnerable people in Assamaka but also in Arlit and Agadez.
“Our medical teams who provide healthcare in the Agadez area meet men, women and children (and in particular unaccompanied minors), who have sometimes walked for miles, in extreme conditions, under temperatures exceeding 40 degrees celsius. These people are hungry and dehydrated. They need food, clean water, health care and access to sanitation facilities. Their psychological distress is extreme, they have sometimes been brutalized during the journey, and need to have contact with their loved ones. The humanitarian situation is terribly concerning” says Dr Toupou Lancinet, the general coordinator of Doctors of the World in Niger.
DotW believes that it is crucial to mobilize more financial and logistical resources, and to further strengthen coordination between humanitarian organizations, civil society actors and public institutions, in order to be able to come to the aid of those affected.
For Doctors of the World, this humanitarian crisis is the consequence of the outsourcing of border management and migration policies of the European Union, which continue to tighten. These migration policies do not respect international law, nor the fundamental rights of these exiled people.
DotW also calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to assume its responsibilities in order to ensure the safety and protection of people of sub-Saharan origin who are stranded in Niger despite having expressed their desire to return to their country.
DotW, which has been working in Niger since 2014, operates in the Agadez region but also in the regions of Tahoua, Tillabéri and Niamey. In particular, the organization supports public health institutions in the medical and psychosocial care of people exiled from Algeria or from other African countries. Doctors of the World also promotes respect for the rights of migrants, and in particular their access to health care.
© Kristof Vadino/Doctors of the World