International Rights Group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Friday said Algeria’s security forces have arrested thousands of migrants and refugees and expelled them to Niger in recent weeks, reported Al Jazeera. The recent roundups were conducted in Tlemcen, Oran, Algiers, Blida, Boumerdes, Tipaza, Zeralda, Setif, and Annaba.
“Since early September, Algeria has expelled over 3,400 migrants of at least 20 nationalities to Niger, including 430 children and 240 women,” the HRW said on Friday.
The number of people who have been expelled to Niger this year has reached over 16,000.
According to the international rights watchdog, the Algerian security forces separated children from their families, snatched belongings of migrants and asylum seekers, and didn’t even allow them to challenge their removal or screen them for refugee status.
Notably, Niger is located on a cross-Saharan route that is used by African migrants to reach the Mediterranean and then cross to Europe.
“Algeria is entitled to protect its borders, but not to arbitrarily detain and collectively expel migrants, including children and asylum seekers, without a trace of due process,” said Lauren Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The HRW suggested that authorities should verify immigration or asylum status of the individuals before deporting them and ensure individual court reviews.
The HRW added that the Algerian authorities have carried out waves of deportations in recent years, including an estimated 25,000 to Niger in 2018, and another 25,000 in 2019.
Last week, the Algerian interior minister announced a new operation to combat illegal migration, claiming that it respected human rights.
According to aid workers in Niger, the government expelled 705 adults and children of 18 nationalities to the desert on October 3. Another batch of 957 Nigeriens was forcibly made to return in a convoy on October 5, and 660 people were expelled on October 8.