Friday, 10 May 2024
May 2024: 8 migrants die in Assamaka on the Niger-Algeria border

Between 9 and 13 May 2024, 5 people died following deportation from Algeria and 3 people, including a 3-year-old little girl, died at the Assamaka hospital ward. Alarme Phone Sahara (APS) condemns the deaths of migrants caused by deportation in violent and inhuman conditions.



10.05.2024: APS and MSF teams helping to rescue survivors of deportation convoy and recovering the bodies of those who died


On 9 May 2024, another ‘non-official’ deportation convoy from Algeria arrived at the Algerian-Nigerian border and left the deportees at Point Zero, 15 km from the border village of Assamaka.

Following the arrival of the deportation convoy, the Alarme Phone Sahara team in Assamaka was on the scene when the bodies of 5 deceased people, among them one man from Burkina Faso and four from Mali, were found between Point Zero and the village of Assamaka: Three on the road, while the other two were discovered off the road, apparently lost during the walk.

‘It was very hot when they were dropped off at “Point Zero” in the middle of the sun and in the middle of the desert’, reports a member of Alarme Phone Sahara.

The Alarme Phone Sahara team in Assamaka, in cooperation with Doctors without Borders (MSF), was helping to rescue the survivors of the deportation convoy and recover the bodies of those who had died.

During the same period around 12 May 2024, three other people lost their lives at the Assamaka CSI (Integrated Health Centre), including one man from Niger, one Malian man and one three-year-old Malian girl who was living with her parents in Assamaka in the hope of being able to return voluntarily to their country of origin. According to the Alarme Phone Sahara team, they were victims of heatstroke, having already weakened so that their physical condition could not withstand the high temperatures of over 40°C.



Images of those who were found dead on 10th of May on the route between "Point Zero" and Assamaka

Those who were found dead between Point Zero and Assamaka were identified as: Bilal S., from Burkina Faso. Moussa D., a 17-year-old Malian. Omar K., a 28-year-old Malian. Mohamed T., 27, Malian. Lassina C., Malian, aged 22. May they rest in peace. We mourn for the dead and demand an end to deadly deportation policies.

It is not very easy for the APS team to know with certainty the main cause of death in each individual case: Is it the current heat that is once again worsening the living conditions of the migrants deported from Assamaka, located in the middle of the desert? Or was it that the deceased were victims of violence at the hands of the Algerian security forces during the raids and deportations?


Deadly conditions in deportation convoys from Algeria to Niger

In any case, it is clear that for years, testimonies from people deported from Algeria to Niger have shown that after arrests, in detention centres and during deportation convoys, deportees are subjected to systematic acts of violence by the security forces, being beaten and stripped of all their belongings. What's more, the deportees are crammed into inhumane conditions, first in buses and then, from Tamanrasset, in lorries to be transported across the desert, facing the heat of the day and the cold of the night, depending on the time of year, to the border with Niger.

As a result, many deportees arrive in a critical condition, often with broken bones, ill, weakened and traumatised. For those deported in ‘non-official’ deportation convoys, there is also the 15 km walk from ‘Point Zero’ to the village of Assamaka, in the heat and on a desert track where there is a risk of losing your orientation. All in all, it is inevitable that people will die in such conditions.

Generally speaking, Alarme Phone Sahara believes that the actual number of people who perish in the desert as a result of the violent border regime and deportation is much higher than has been documented to date.


Ongoing mass deportations from Algeria and Tunisia, cooperation between Maghreb states on deportations and externalisation of the EU border regime

The deaths of 8 people in Assamaka come at a time of large-scale and high-frequency mass deportations from Algeria to Niger: In May 2024 alone at least 4428 people were deported in several ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ convoys between 9 and 26 May.

According to the observations of the Alarme Phone Sahara team in Assamaka, the total number of people deported from Algeria to Niger since the beginning of 2024 is at least 14328 - a figure that represents the human fate of 14328 people who have had to endure the cruel practices of the border and deportation regime.

The mass deportations from Algeria are often closely linked to those from Tunisia, which have caused international alarm in recent days and weeks: Once people have been deported from Tunisia to the Algerian border area, they are often picked up by Algerian forces and then deported to the Niger border, creating a chain of deportations across several countries in the Sahel-Saharan region, in defiance of the existing legal instruments for the protection of human beings.

All this is happening in a context where governments in the Maghreb, encouraged by European policy, are seeking to reinforce their anti-migration policies.

According to international media reports, on 22 April 2024, Tunisian President Kaïs Saied agreed with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi, to ‘reduce the growing number of people arriving from Agadez’ by ‘repatriating’ them. It is believed that this plan, which should be seen as a response to Niger's abandonment of anti-migration policies and legislation, is also supported by EU countries, notably the Italian government of Giorgia Meloni, Italy's far-right prime minister.


Call to action:

Alarme Phone Sahara encourages civil society and also the governments of sub-Saharan countries and all human rights organisations to speak out against the serious human rights violations, especially against nationals of sub-Saharan African countries, which are taking place in all Maghreb countries and with the complicity of the European Union, which is intensifying the externalisation of its borders.


Alarme Phone Sahara demands :

  • No more deaths!
  • An immediate halt to mass deportations and pushbackss to deserts and border areas!
  • Respect for the human rights of all people on the move, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers!
  • An end to roundups, arbitrary arrests and police violence !
  • The opening of safe humanitarian routes for all people on the move, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean!
  • The abolition of deportation and migration control agreements between the countries of the Sahel-Saharan region and EU members in favour of a policy based on the protection of life, rights, security, human dignity and the freedom of movement of all people on the move!



Annex: Figures for deportations from Algeria to Niger between 10 and 22 May 2024 :


09.05.2024: Arrival of a "non-official" deportation convoy. 5 deportees, four from Mali and one from Burkina Faso, found dead on and around the road between ‘Point Zero’ and Assamaka. 

On this deportation convoy, 589 people, including 6 under-age boys and 583 adult men, were dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. Among them were 192 people from Mali, 156 from Guinea-Conakry, 70 from Burkina Faso, 54 from Ivory Coast, 34 from Benin, 17 from Nigeria, 16 from the Gambia, 15 from Senegal, 14 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Tchad, 6 from Cameroon, 3 from Liberia and one person from Ghana.


11.05.2024: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, made up of 25 lorries and 2 vans. On this convoy, 887 Niger nationals were deported, including 76 adult women, 118 under-age girls, 581 adult men and 112 under-age boys.


15.05.2024: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, comprising 558 people, including 41 adult women, 63 under-age girls, 417 adult men and 37 under-age boys.


15.05.2024: 146 people deported in a ‘non-official’ convoy and dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. They included 33 nationals of Guinea Conakry, 28 from Mali, 23 from Nigeria, 20 from Gambia, 8 from Senegal, 11 from Sierra Leone, 13 from Benin, two from Liberia, 5 from Côte d'Ivoire and 3 from Cameroon.


18.05.2024: 183 people deported in a ‘non-official’ convoy and dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. Among them were 41 nationals of Guinea Conakry, 29 from Mali, 3 from Nigeria, one from Senegal, 16 from Benin, 19 from Cameroon, 12 from Burkina Faso and 8 from Sierra Leone .

42 nationals from Chad, 5 from Syria and 7 from Sudan were returned directly to Algeria.


20.05.2024: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, comprising 562 people, including 24 adult women, 35 under-age girls, 553 adult men and 50 under-age boys.


22.05.2024: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, comprising 221 people from Niger, including 18 adult women, 22 under-age girls, 165 adult men and 16 under-age boys.


22.05.2024: 98 people deported in a ‘non-official’ convoy and dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. Among them were 38 nationals of Guinea Conakry, 24 from Mali, 4 from Nigeria, 3 from Senegal, 8 from Benin, one from Cameroon, one from Burkina Faso, 9 from Sierra Leone, 4 from the Gambia, 4 from Ivory Coast and two from Liberia.


24.05.2024: 267 people, including 3 under-age boys and 264 adult men, deported in a ‘non-official’ convoy and dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. Among them were 49 nationals of Guinea Conakry, 41 from Mali, 10 from Nigeria, 11 from Senegal, 7 from Benin, 45 from Cameroon, 24 from Burkina Faso, 23 from Sierra Leone, 28 from the Gambia and 29 from Ivory Coast.


26.05.2024: 168 people, including 8 adult women and 160 adult men, deported in a ‘non-official’ convoy and dropped off at ‘Point Zero’ to walk to Assamaka. Among them were 35 nationals of Guinea Conakry, 34 from Mali, 7 from Niger, 15 from Senegal, 5 from Benin, 4 from Cameroon, 7 from Burkina Faso, 12 from Sierra Leone, 8 from the Gambia, 10 from Ivory Coast, 16 from Nigeria, 4 from Tchad, 10 from Sudan and one person from Togo.


26.05.2024: Arrival of an official deportation convoy at Assamaka, made up of 15 lorries and 2 vans. On this convoy, 749 Niger nationals were deported, including 32 adult women, 67 under-age girls, 553 adult men and 97 under-age boys.