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UN Denounces Mass Immigrant Expulsions in Algeria

Rabat – The UN has denounced reported mass expulsions of sub-Saharan migrants from Algeria as illegal under international law. “We urge Algeria to implement the recommendations made by the Committee on Migrant Workers in April, including to explicitly prohibit collective expulsions and establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure that expulsions of migrant workers are carried out in strict compliance with international standards,” UN Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani asserted in a press briefing Tuesday.According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), raids by Algerian security forces typically occur in construction sites and areas with high migrant populations, although migrants also testified to arrest and detention after encounters with Algerian authorities in the street Many of the deported migrants often end up in neighboring Niger or Mali, without money, passports, food, or clothes due to the rapid nature of the deportations, Shamdasani added. Following detention in the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset, detained migrants are moved to the Nigerien city Agadez or smaller border cities, where they are abandoned without food, possessions, or contacts. Surrounded by the Sahara desert, many migrants are often forced to walk for hours in the heat to cross the Nigerien border.In its statement, the OHCHR urged Algerian authorities to maintain migrants’ rights to seek asylum, to the principle of non-refoulement (forced deportation), and to due process under international law.Reports of Algeria’s mass migrant deportations to Niger first surfaced in August 2017 to widespread condemnation by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The organization denounced the expulsions as blatant violations of international migrant protections granted by the UN and African Union.Racism in the country, evidenced by the popular hashtag #Say_No_to_Africans and reports of frequent assaults, feeds migrant vilification and detention; even Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia referring to the sub-Saharan undocumented population as “a source of crime, drugs, and many other plagues” in July 2017.Although Algerian officials have discussed the possibility of implementing a regularization program similar to that of Morocco, legislative action has made little progress.In April, Algerian interior ministry official Hassen Kacimi reported to Reuters that the North African country “is very concerned by the growing number of illegal migrants.”Dismissing condemnation from human rights organizations, the official stated, “Nobody has helped us, we are handling the situation with our own means.” read more