Monday, 08 February 2021
13th of January and 8th of February: Rescue actions in the Niger desert in the zones of Dirkou and Bilma

Since the beginning of 2021, Taher Laouel and Attoumane Boukar, Alarme Phone Sahara (APS) whistleblowers, have participated twice in the rescue of people in distress in the desert:        


  • On 13th of January, Taher Laouel, who was on his way back from Gatron in Libya, came across a group of 6 passengers bogged down in the sand with their vehicle 20km from Dirkou. During this same trip, Taher Laouel also noticed that the Lateye well, an important place for desert travellers to get water, needed a refurbishment in order to fulfil its function.
  • On 8th of February 2021, Taher Laouel and Attoumane Boukar, in cooperation with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), responded to an alert call from a group of passengers who were in distress in the middle of the desert in the area south of Bilma.


These examples show once again:

  • Desert crossings pose great risks to the lives of migrants and all travellers - risks that are further aggravated by measures to "combat irregular migration", such as the law "036 - 2015", and policies to externalise borders.
  • Alarme Phone Sahara responds to this situation with practical initiatives to help save lives and at the same time defend the right to freedom of movement and reject policies that seek to stop or prevent migrants on their way.
  • To prevent more deaths in the desert, it is also necessary keep wells where migrants and other passengers can get clean water in good conditions.
  • Cooperation between humanitarian and solidary organisations, such as this time between Alarme Phone Sahara (APS) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) plays a very important role in saving lives in the desert on migration routes.


Rescue on 13th of January 2021 near Dirkou

Joining the social with the humanitarian: Taher Laouel helps to rescue 6 passengers from the desert - report from the coordination of Alarme Phone Sahara in Agadez

Back from Gatron (Libyan city) for a social act, Dirkou's whistleblower Taher Laouel came to the aid of travellers in distress in the desert.


20 kms from Dirkou, the whistleblower found a vehicle stuck in the sand with 6 passengers on board, including a woman and two children back from Libya. Disoriented on this road of all risks, these travellers were rescued with the help of a compressor which allowed them to inflate the tyres of their truck to get out of the sand. The fortuitous presence of the whistleblower on the spot gave hope to the travellers who were guided to Dirkou safe and sound.


Taher Laouel helps 6 passengers stuck in the sand with their vehicle 20km from Dirkou

At the same occasion, Taher Laouel stopped at the Lateye well located on the Agadez-Libya border migration route. The Lateye well is located 45 kms from Dirkou and gives hope to people who see it thanks to the precious liquid: water, source of life. Taher Laouel pointed out in his report to the Alarme Phone Sahara coordination that the well, which is used by many travellers on this route needs to be cleaned and buckets to pull up the water have to be provided.


The Lateye well must be brought in good conditions so that travellers can obtain water.

"Two birds with one stone", the whistelblower comes back from his trip to remind us of the challenges of the migration route through the Sahara Desert which never ceases to bitterly surprise those who move along it for one reason or another.


Rescue on 8th of February in the zone of Bilma with the help of Alarme Phone Sahara and Doctors Without Borders

Challenging the sand dunes to save 25 people - report from the coordination of Alarme Phone Sahara in Agadez

There are countless gateways into the vast Sahara desert. Some are more difficult to access than others. But they can never discourage the will of travellers who are more determined than ever to go in any direction in search of better living conditions than those left behind. This is not without risk. In opposition to the law known as Niger's "Law 036-2015", migrants try to tame nature's obstacles in their own way in order to circumvent traps for people at their own risk. It is in such circumstances that following an alert call, the team of Bilma and Dirkou whistelblowers moved through the sand dunes on 08th of February 2021 to assist 25 passengers.

A desert traveler talks about their rescue on 8th of February 2021

The urgency of the event does not allow you to wait too long. Human lives are at stake. The distance and environmental obstacles characteristic of the desert often do not offer any choice to act. The APS coordination is informed of the alert launched by Laouel Taher and Attoumane Boukar. Not having its own means of intervention, APS called upon the partner "Doctors Without Borders" present in the district of Bilma. Offering 300 litres of fuel enabled the team of whistleblowers to drive to rescue the migrants between N'guigmi and Bilma, a few hundred kilometres from the town of Agadem. This swift reaction, made possible by Doctors Without Borders's generous support, was an unforgettable gesture that saved lives. This is the place to magnify the exemplary partnership that exists between Alarme Phone Sahara and Doctors Without Borders, which makes valuable actions possible in an environment as difficult as the desert. This intervention just two days after the Day of CommemorAction for the Dead and Disappeared just helped to avoid expanding the unfamous sad list of victims of the policies of externalisation of borders.


Desert travelers after their rescue on 8th of February 2021

Congratulations to the duo Laouel Taher and Attoumane Boukar from Alarme Phone Sahara and hats off to Doctors without Borders for their involvement at the right time!