In Niger, since the adoption of the law against the smuggling of migrants in May 2015, smugglers and migrants are becoming more discreet. In Agadez, a migratory crossroads for sub-Saharan Africans going to the Maghreb or Europe, the flow of migrants has decreased.
The clandestine residences commonly called «ghettos» are more and more distant from the city of Agadez and do not welcome many migrants in transit. Among these candidates departing, some are not on their first attempt. «When I left Agadez, my destination was Algeria. I was rather diverted to Libya. Once we arrived, we ended up in a prison. There, there is only torture. You don’t eat, you are beaten morning-noon-evening. You are asked to call the family so that they can pay a sum between 450,000 and 500,000 CFA francs», said Youssouf Fofana, a Gabonese migrant aged 34. The latter said he spent nearly 5 months in detention in difficult conditions before recovering freedom.
«Two months later, they (the jailers) came with weapons, one morning. They said I didn’t want to pay the money and shot my ankle. They filmed the wound and sent the video through WhatsApp to a contact I had in my phone directory. (…) In just over four months, five people have died in front of me. People lose their lives like that, and then the Libyans transport them to throw them into the desert. It means nothing to them» he adds.
In the desert, tragedies have multiplied since the application of the law that punishes migration actors. To escape the control of the security forces, migrant convoys are using more dangerous roads in the Sahara. This is how many migrants were found dead or abandoned by smugglers. «When I was going to Djado, I found a vehicle that has broken down with 25 people on board. Among them, there were 5 dead people. The others were too tired and thirsty», says a former smuggler.
Today, actors living on migration are calling on the Nigerien authorities to keep their promise regarding the reconversion and social integration plan. «It’s hard to see people dying on this road. The State is aware of everything that is happening. They accept money to let people through. Yet, they know that the road is dangerous. We want the authorities to develop African countries, give work to young people to stop traveling in these conditions, because it’s not going well in Libya», says Adamou, an intermediary.
Between April and June last, 600 migrants were saved in the desert but 52 others died, according to the International Organization for Migration.